I came across this US SurveyMonkey survey of 500 working ‘moms’ which asked what employer benefits as working parents they most valued, flexible working hours came out at number 2 with over 21% saying flexible hours helped them to balance their work and parental responsibilities. SurveyMonkey go on to report that the research identified that only 40% of the US organisations these parents work for offer flexible work schedules.
It’s been suggested that the US now lags behind Europe in terms of benefits offered to help working parents manage their work-life balance. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act US employers don’t have to offer holiday or sickness pay which is also reflected in this chart.
According to a report in the New York Times the number of women in their 30’s and 40’s in the US workplace is falling as managing life takes over from work and it’s not just women, 37 percent of non-working US men 25 to 54 say family responsibilities are a reason they’re not working.
Silicon Valley employers are well known for offering a range of unusual benefits to attract and retain talent including Nap Pods to grab a quick 40 winks at Google and house cleaning services at Evernote. The Silicon Valley workforce is still largely male and populated with bright young 20 somethings – working long hours including overnight hackathons leaves little room for parenting.
Apple and Facebook as part of their benefits packages offer to contribute $20,000 towards freezing female employees’ embryos, sending out a clear message of work now, parent later! Although as a Guardian article pointed out Facebook are more parent-friendly than the average tech company. Unsurprisingly the attitude is starting to change as bright young things move into their 30’s and become parents themselves.
“Benefits and the working environment matter to an engineer. Do you give them the opportunity to work flexible hours or work from home and trust them and your team to deliver and collaborate regardless of whether they’re at a desk or on a couch?” Perks Don’t Work, Sophie Kitson in TechCrunch on how it takes more than quirky perks to keep talent engaged with their employers.
Flexible working a year on
Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) define flexible working as either where we work, such as homeworking, or the kind of contract we are on, such as a temporary contract. Common kinds of flexible working include part-time working, flexitime, job sharing and shift-working (the link at the end details other forms of flexible working as well).
It’s been just over a year since new legislation gave British employees the right to request flexible working (although employers don’t have to agree to it if they can demonstrate that there would be a detrimental impact to their business). In a recent UK survey 37% of employees said their organisations didn’t offer any form of flexible working despite the legislation.
And flexibility works both ways. A Wall Street Journal report highlighted a deal between car manufacturer Ford and a major German trade union to introduce more flexible shift-working for their factory workers in Cologne to improve production efficiency, reduce costs and stave-off redundancies.
EEF (The Manufacturers’ Organisation) research identified that many of their larger members offered various kinds of flexible working prior to the new legislation coming into force but SMEs in particular find flexible working harder to accommodate.
A survey by Jobvite found that 38% of employees asked to rank how important various criteria were to them in deciding whether to accept a new job picked work-life balance whilst 25% would value the ability to work from home. As you’d expect the relative importance of benefits changes with different age groups, for example for middle-aged workers health benefits were more important than location.
Our time and attendance solution gives all employers the tools to make it easier to accurately manage flexible working in a fair and transparent way, whether it’s shift-working, part-time working or flexitime, And as younger generations come into the workplace with different work-life expectations organisations will continue to need to adapt and change.
Help and advice: Acas Guide to flexible working for employees and employers