SHRM Survey: Fairness Cited in Implementation of Workplace Flexibility Practices

Jun 1, 2012
New SHRM research identifies opportunity for employers to use flexible work arrangements to recruit and retain valuable segments of workforce

Alexandria, Va., June 1, 2012 — Many employers are creating flexible work arrangements, and some are adopting these programs for specific segments of the workforce. Still, many employers using these arrangements develop them for all employees out of a sense of fairness, according to new Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) research.

“Organizations recognize the necessity to meet the needs of specific groups of employees, but they tend to do this by designing the optimal arrangements that meet the needs of the great number of diverse groups,” said Mark Schmit, SHRM vice president for research. “However, most organizations also recognize the need to consider specific employee needs on a case-by-case basis.”

The research report, “Workplace Flexibility for Select Populations,” was conducted in collaboration with the Families and Work Institute and researchers from Portland State University and Clemson University, and the results were released at the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in April in San Diego.

Ninety percent of organizations that employ veterans said they have not created or implemented flexible work arrangements specifically for employees who are veterans. When asked about the main obstacles to implementing flexibility for veterans, the No. 1 reason, as cited by 35 percent of respondents, was ensuring equal treatment for all employees.

The majority of organizations also had not created flexibility programs specifically for:

  • Parents with responsibilities for dependent care (68 percent of organizations said they had not);
  • Low-wage ($15.50 an hour or less) and hourly workers (75 percent of organizations that employ this type of worker).
In these cases, “ensuring equal treatment for all employees” was again the primary reason. Other reasons cited included ensuring that work is done and the impracticality of such arrangements given the nature of jobs.

Flexible work arrangements have been created by some organizations to accommodate segments of the workforce, including disabled workers (47 percent of organizations that hire the disabled have created flexible work arrangements specifically for them). Reduced work hours, flextime and telecommuting are the most common flexible work arrangement for employees with disabilities.

But Schmit noted, “The survey results identify an opportunity for employers to better use workplace flexibility programs to recruit and retain top employees and to address the growing skills gap. Veterans and the disabled, for example, have unique skills to bring to the workplace. They just need flexibility.”

Among other findings:

  • 95 percent of organizations have not made any special effort to ask fathers what they need in terms of workplace flexibility.
  • The most common flexible work arrangements provided to low-wage and hourly employees include flextime (61 percent), shift flexibility (59 percent), break arrangements (51 percent) and leave for care-giving (51 percent).
SHRM’s Workplace Flexibility for Select Populations research surveyed 509 randomly selected HR professionals in February 2012.

Media: For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6260 and Follow SHRM Research on Twitter at @SHRM_Research.

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 over 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 Follow us on Twitter at: @SHRMPress

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