October is National Work and Family Month. Some organizations have used this as the catalyst for launching initiatives, such as Working Mother's National Flex Day on Oct. 15. Others are taking this opportunity to advance the conversation around helping employees reduce work life conflict. Our efforts centered on promoting awareness of work options and encouraging professionals to ask for what they need in terms of work/life alignment.
Recently, we commissioned our third annual workplace survey which aimed to take a comprehensive look at the perceptions and preferences of working adults in the U.S. related to workplace flexibility and work/life choices. While flexibility is a priority for all, among the new statements posed this year, we found something interesting: 80 percent of working parents say they have "at least a little" flexibility in their current job. That number rises a little each year.
The collection of results is where the big picture comes into focus. The U.S. workplace is undergoing a shift from 9-5 as the exclusive norm to having "alternative" or "non-traditional" ways of working become more widely accepted and implemented. When asked if they prefer to work a traditional 9-5 workday, nearly half (46%) of working adults disagree, indicating they would prefer some level of alternative work arrangement. This is slightly more than our findings in 2012, when 44 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement.
To further illustrate the shift taking place, nearly half (48%) of working adults agree they would consider alternative work options (such as temping, contracting, part-time or consulting) instead of a traditional full-time job in order to better achieve work/life balance. In addition, 58 percent of working adults agree they would get more work done if they had the ability to work from home occasionally, compared to 53 percent in 2012. This tells me, a growing number of employees don't feel the need to clock in at nine and out at five to get their jobs done.
After three years of doing this survey, we're finding the trends and attitudinal shifts to be noteworthy. (If you are interested in the details of the survey, feel free to write a comment and we can get them to you.) The statistics and our other findings lead to many conclusions about how flexibility fits into the workplace, our personal lives and the decisions we make. We are at an interesting middle point right now. Many U.S. workers are willing to give up salary and make job decisions based on flexibility, while at the same time feel it might negatively affect their career path. We see more employees asking for the work situation they need and more companies offering flexibility as a proven talent management strategy. But we aren't there yet.
Four out of five working parents have access to flexibility. Shouldn't you, if you want it? If flexibility is being offered this widely, yet perhaps you're feeling stuck, there are options. Some may be more difficult to come by than others, but it's at least worth looking into. Let this Work and Family Month commemorate the year you asked for what you want and need in terms of work/life alignment.
Have you found it? We are asking for people of all walks of life to share their story of how they make work work for them. We would love to hear yours!
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