Dr. Jade S. Jenkins is currently the academic assessment coordinator at Texas A&M – Texarkana. She earned her Ph.D in social and industrial-organizational psychology from Northern Illinois University, and her research interests include occupational health psychology, stereotypes, and the self . Here she writes about how those who utilize family-friendly policies may face stigma from colleagues and managers. Continue reading
This article reports data from a new survey of working men. It notes that informal flexibility arrangements are much more prevalent, with 66% reporting ad-hoc arrangements. Only 29% reported having regularly scheduled flexible working arrangements.
The author suggests that the prevalence of informal arrangements may be a boon as it normalise flexible working. This may encourage more employees to take advantage of flexible working with reduced workplace stigma, and spur employers and employees to embrace flexibility in the future.
Read more at HBR Blog.
This blog post draws on discussion at a seminar at the Harvard Kennedy School in September 2014. It notes that while women constitute roughly fifty percent of the United States workforce they remain ‘severely underrepresented in elite positions’.
Research focussing on a consultancy firm notes that the common narrative for this discrepancy among these professionals is that women are ‘disproportionally affected by personal obligations’ that prevent them thriving in a corporate culture where 70 hour weeks are common. This echoes earlier research and opinion pieces that hold that women ‘choose’ to opt-out of work before reaching the most senior positions.
Researchers counter this, however, by suggesting that a over-promising work delivery creates a 24/7 culture in which maintaining work-life balance is impossible. Employees cope with this conflict by creating a ‘social defence’ in which professional and personal spheres are split, the later being projected the latter onto women:
By psychologically assigning women to the private sphere (what Ely calls “privatizing women”), organizations perpetuate the idea that women will prioritize their personal life over their professional one, making them less able to take on management work.
The authors argue that a cultural shift is required, where the narratives and expectations about work-life balance within an organisation are altered.
Read more at the WAPPP Wire.
Flexible working may not reduce gender inequality but, rather, exacerbate it.
Forthcoming research, based in the United States, found that men were significantly more likely to have similar flexible working requests granted than women.
Christin Munsch, one of the report authors suggests that such results demonstrate the importance of cultural influences on gender norms: women who make flexible working requests to look after children are viewed as both bad mothers and bad employees, and are punished for their perceived failings.
The authors suggest that there needs to be a cultural shift in attitudes to gender and work for flexible working to be successful in tackling workplace inequalities.
Reader more on Daily Life.
This article demonstrates that flexible working was more likely to be granted to high-status men who requested flexible schedules to allow them to further develop their careers.
For women, neither their status nor their reason for wanting a flexible schedule significantly impacted decisions to grant their request.
They suggest this has the effect of both reinforcing gendered status hierarchies, and perpetuating them.
|Managers’ Willingness to Grant Flexitime Request (Brescoll et al., 2013: 376)|
|Male target||Female target|
|Low Status||High Status||Low Status||High Status|
Brescoll, Victoria, L.; Glass, Jennifer; Sedlovskaya, Alexandra (2013) “Ask and Ye Shall Receive? The Dynamics of Employer-Provided Flexible Work Options and the Need for Public Policy” Journal of Social Issues, 69(2)
Drawing from interviews with managers, public sector policy-makers and administrators, and union leaders, this article demonstrates that workers‘ control over working time is affected by
- the institutional and regulatory environment within the country
- labor market conditions
- management and labor union strategies
Employees in countries, such as Germany, Sweden and Netherlands, with extensive collective bargaining, high labour union density/coverage, and labour representatives focussed on working time issues, have increased collective control over working time.
Employee control over working time is unevenly distributed in countries with weaker labour institutions, and tends to reflect more closely the employers interests.
Berg, Peter; Appelbaum, Eileen; Bailey, Tom; and Kalleberg, Arne L. (2004) “Contesting Time: International Comparisons of Employee Control of Working Time” Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 57(3)
Available at: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/ilrreview/vol57/iss3/1
This survey of flexible work in Germany, England, Belgium and Netherlands found that 64% of English firms have implemented some kind of flexible working. This more than Germany (57%), the Netherlands (48%) and Belgium (38%).
The reasons cited for not implementing flexible working were that:
1. Companies are still looking into the possibilities of flexible working;
2. Staff are tied to a fixed place and time because of their specific duties;
3. The organisation feels that the presence of staff is necessary.
Notably, the reasons for flexible working differed by country. In Belgium and England, organisations to implemented flexible ‘to satisfy the wishes of staff’. In Germany, the most important argument for flexible working was that it leads to ‘higher staff satisfaction’. In the Netherlands, ‘cost-savings on buildings, accommodation and workstations’ was key for organisation.
Read more here.
A new survey suggests that most employers are dubious about tele-working with half of workers suggesting that their boss disapproves of remote working, and only 35% say it’s tolerated.
The same survey, perhaps, reinforces such doubts as it shows that 43% of workers have watched TV or a movie while “working” remotely, while 35% have done household chores, and 28% have cooked dinner.
This article, however, argues that tele-work can make workers more efficient, and represents a cheap way for employers to provide a valued workplace perk.
Read more at Slate.
Even as new communications technologies make flexible working more possible the reality is that few companies have official policies and even fewer managers are open to or equipped to handle employees with alternative schedules. Furthermore, despite research demonstrating improved productivity, there are still issues of trust, with a persistent belief that flexible and remote working encourages a lax attitude to work.
This blog post suggests that workers may be able to help themselves get the flexible working patterns they want by being clear about what they need, and by working with employers to respond to their needs and show that work does get done and that flexible working may even be a net gain to the organisation.
Read more on the HBR Blog.