Flexibility Makes Significant Impact on Workplace, FWI-SHRM Report Shows

Report being released at Washington conference documents tie between
workplace flexibility and positive business results

Washington, D.C., Nov. 2, 2011 — Workplace flexibility programs benefit employers of all sizes and industries, resulting in increased employee job satisfaction, lower turnover and lower insurance costs, according to the new report “Workplace Flexibility in the United States: A Status Report.”

Published by the When Work Works initiative of the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the report debunks myths about workplace flexibility and documents the connection among flexible workplaces and business results that matter to employers. It was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

“As the economy, and the employers and employees that comprise it, move forward through a time of ever greater work and home-life demands, workplace flexibility becomes more than a favor or benefit for employees,” the report concluded. “It becomes a strategic necessity to keep employees and employers working and living well.”

Being released at the new SHRM-FWI Work-Life Focus: 2012 and Beyond conference Nov. 8-10 in Washington, D.C., the update on workplace flexibility is a summary of reports produced by FWI to accompany the National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility, a series of 10 forums across the country convened between October 2010 and June 2011 by the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. The forums were a follow up to the March 2010 White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility.

A common assumption about workplace flexibility is that small employers are less flexible than large employers because of cost. But while 38 percent of large employers (500 or more employees) said the costs of flexibility or limited funds was an obstacle to flexibility, less than 32 percent of small organizations said the same thing, FWI data show.

Another common assumption about workplace flexibility is that employees will take advantage of it. According to Ellen Galinsky, FWI’s president and co-author of the report: “The assumption is that if you give employees an inch, they take a mile. But that’s not the case. Overall, 11% of employees with access to daily schedule flexibility use it several times a month or more, 70% use it once a month or less and the remaining 19% never use it.”

Galinsky and Kenneth Matos, co-author of the report, will talk about highlights from the report at a press briefing at the work-life conference. The briefing is from 9:45 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, in the Massachusetts Room of the Capital Hilton, 1001 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036.

The report draws on two nationally representative studies by FWI — the National Study of the Changing Workforce and the National Study of Employers — to identify misconceptions and emerging trends.

The report is available on the When Work Works website.

MEDIA: For more information, to attend the press briefing or to schedule an interview, contact Kelly Sakai at ksakai@familiesandwork.org and 212-981-2559 or Kate Kennedy at kate.kennedy@shrm.org and 703-535-6260.

About the Families and Work Institute
The 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, visit https://www.familiesandwork.org and follow us on Twitter @FWINews.

About the Society for Human Resource Management
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in more than 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.

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