Families and Work Institute Releases Two New Reports to Coincide with U.S. Department of Labor-Women’s Bureau “National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility” Forums

February 16, 2011

New Reports Shine a Spotlight on Workplace Flexibility for
Low-Wage Employees and Employees in the Health Services Industry

New York, NY – The Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor is convening a forum on workplace flexibility and hourly workers in Pasadena on February 17 and a forum on workplace flexibility and the health services industry in Seattle on February 18. These forums are part of their National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility, designed to build on the momentum created by the March 2010 White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, Families and Work Institute (FWI) will be releasing a report to for each of these events, with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

In Workplace Flexibility and Low-Wage Employees, FWI finds that low-wage employees have much less access to many types of flexibility than higher-wage employees, but that low- and higher-wage employees are equally pressed for time in their personal lives and place equal value on having a flexible workplace. Having greater flexibility on the job substantially reduces differences between low-wage and higher-wage employees in terms of job satisfaction, job engagement, physical and mental health and the likelihood of employees remaining with their current employers.

Workplace Flexibility in the Health Services Industry tells a very different story. This industry is clearly ahead of the curve. Employers in health services are far more likely than employers in other industries to see flexibility as a business tool rather than a favor or a perk.

In addition, they are more likely than employers in other industries to use workplace flexibility to attract highly skilled workers, and they provide much more flexibility than other employers. In addition to the reports being released by FWI, a new report by theNational Partnership for Women & Families and the Family Values @ Work Consortium richly illuminates the workers’ perspective. Based on results from a discussion group convened in Los Angeles prior to the DOL event, Los Angeles Workers Speak: The Employee Case for Flexibility in Hourly, Lower-Wage Jobs finds that many of the hourly, lower-wage employees in the discussion group lack flexibility in scheduling and access to paid time off. Several faced disciplinary action when they had to take time for a personal or family emergency. However, those with experiences in flexible work environments see real, positive differences in employee productivity and morale.

For information on attending the forums and to receive copies of the reports, contact Kelly Sakai at Families and Work Institute (212.981.2559; ksakai@familiesandwork.org).

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ABOUT FAMILIES AND WORK INSTITUTE Families and Work Institute (FWI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that studies the changing workforce, family and community. As a preeminent think tank, FWI is known for being ahead of the curve, identifying emerging issues, and then conducting rigorous research that often challenges common wisdom and provides insight and knowledge. As an action tank, FWI conducts numerous studies that put its research into action and then evaluates the results. Its purpose is to create research to live by. For more information, see www.familiesandwork.org.

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