National Study of Employers Takes Pulse of U.S. Workplaces

April 29, 2014

Effective and flexible work marches on, with a few stumbles

Nashville, Tenn. — The economy was battered by a crippling recession, a few of the Yahoo’s of the world announced telecommuting cuts, and recently sports commentators attacked a baseball player turned new father for taking time off for family.

Despite all this, progress by the nation’s employers toward more effective and flexible work marches forward, but for a few stumbles, according to a new report released today by Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The 2014 National Study of Employers (NSE), which looks at changes in the workplace since 2008, found that flexibility over when and where full-time employees work is on the rise. This includes options such as working remotely occasionally (telecommuting), which saw an increase to 67 percent from 50 percent in 2008, and control over overtime, up to 45 percent from 27 percent.

On the other hand, provisions allowing extended time away from work largely saw declines, including practices such as job-sharing, down to 18 percent from 29 percent, and career breaks for personal and family responsibilities, down to 52 percent from 64 percent.

The NSE findings also revealed that business practice and governmental policy mutually influence one another. Over the years, employers have gravitated toward the 12-week minimum of family leave mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act, provided space and time for breastfeeding mother as mandated in the Affordable Care Act, and increasingly offered health insurance benefits for unmarried couples, presaging changes in laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act.

“This study is a reflection of the changes occurring in our nation,” said Kenneth Matos, senior director of research at Families and Work Institute, and lead author of the report. “More than just data on policies and paychecks, this research shows us how the personal and the professional are connected, and how business is reinventing workplaces for a continually changing workforce.”

“Technological advances and demographic shifts in the workforce are impacting where, when and how works gets done. Organizations must adapt to remain competitive. Creating an effective and flexible workplace can help organizations meet the business needs of today and adjust to rapidly changing needs,” said Lisa Horn, co-leader of SHRM's Workplace Flexibility Initiative. “By sharing this research, SHRM hopes to equip organizations with the information they need to design innovative solutions to meet their individual business needs and the needs of their employees.”

The study was released at SHRM's Talent Management Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

Among other trends that emerged from the report:

  • Small employers are remerging from the recession as flexible work leaders.
  • More employers are complying with maternity, adoption and seriously ill caregiving leaves, although paternity leave lags behind.
  • There is more attention to informing employees about their opportunities for elder care support.
  • Fewer organizations are covering the full cost of maternity leaves.
  • Organizations have increased the copay they require of employees for health insurance.

To view the full report, visit

Press briefing: Representatives from FWI and SHRM will share highlights from the study and answer questions via conference call from 2 to 3 p.m. EST today. Dial-in information is available from FWI and SHRM media relations.

Media: To receive a copy of the report or for more information, contact Kelly Sakai-O’Neill of Families and Work Institute at and 718-715-8890 or Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6260 and

The 2014 National Study of Employers (NSE) surveyed a representative national sample of 1,051 for-profit (67 percent of the sample) and nonprofit employers (33 percent of the sample) with 50 or more employees by telephone interviews and Web surveys with the Human Resource directors. All respondents were offered the opportunity to complete the survey in their preferred mode (telephone interview or online survey). Representatives of Harris Interactive conducted the 48-minute phone interviews between Sept. 13, 2013, and Jan. 31, 2014. Online interviews averaged about 37 minutes in length and were conducted during the same time period. Approximately 34 percent of the sample chose to respond via telephone interview and 66 percent chose to respond by online survey. Employers were selected from Dun & Bradstreet lists using a stratified random sampling procedure in which selection was proportional to the number of people employed by each company to ensure a large enough sample of large organizations. The response rate for the study was 40 percent. The maximum sampling error (margin of error) for the study when describing the total sample is approximately 4 percent.

About Families and Work Institute
Families and Work Institute is a nonprofit center dedicated to providing research for living in today’s changing workplace, changing family and changing community. Since the Institute was founded in 1989, our work has tackled issues in three major areas: the workforce/workplace, youth and early childhood. Families and Work Institute’s research takes on emerging issues before they crest and includes some of the most comprehensive research on the U.S. workforce available. The Institute’s work has helped change the language of debates to move the discussion forward toward more effective, and data-driven solutions, and to result in action. For more information, visit, like us on and follow us on Twitter @FWINews.

About the Society for Human Resource Management
Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit SHRM Online at and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.



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