How is the recession affecting the workplace?

How is the economic downturn affecting the American workplace? A new study released today by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) finds that in the face of recession, and at a time of cost cutting, the overwhelming majority of employers (94%) are maintaining or increasing their workplace flexibility programs. In fact a quarter of the employers (26%) specifically used flexible workplace options – from reduced work weeks to telecommuting – to minimize the need for layoffs.

Between 34% to 43% of employers are actively helping employees weather the recession. Employers are largely retaining or increasing workplace flexibility as a way to manage through a difficult economic environment, and 57% of employers are giving employees some or a lot of input about the flexibility they use.

The study, which is based on a May 2009 survey of U.S. employers with 50 or more employees, measured a number of trends including percentage of employers reducing labor and operational costs, specific cost reduction strategies, and how different types of employers are helping employees deal with the recession. Download the study here.

Ellen Galinsky is testifying today before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, as part of a hearing entitled “Balancing Work and Family in the Recession: How Employees and Employers are Coping.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, said “Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of work-life balance policies to their bottom lines — now we see it’s true in good times and in tough times. Offering flexibility to workers is a low-cost way to boost morale, loyalty, and productivity. This new report by the Families and Work Institute, confirms that smart employers are working with their employees to avoid layoffs.  More employers should see these policies as an essential element of the 21st century workplace. Leaders in Washington must work with leaders in the business community to further increase workplace flexibility that works for both employers and employees.”

You can download the study here. The study is based on a May 2009 survey of a random sample of 400 employers.

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