New Study of Employers Released by FWI and SHRM Shows Significant Changes for U.S. Workers since End of Recession

April 30, 2012

New Study of Employers Released by FWI and SHRM Shows Significant Changes for U.S. Workers since End of Recession

2012 National Study of Employers reveals increase in employers that offer flex time

Alexandria, Va., April 30, 2012 — The latest edition of the National Study of Employers, designed and conducted by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and released jointly today by FWI and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as part of their partnership, finds that employers are increasing employees’ options for managing when and where they work, while reducing some options that affect how much they work.

First conducted by FWI in 1998, the National Study of Employers is the most comprehensive and far-reaching study of the practices, policies, programs and benefits provided by U.S. employers to address the changing needs of today’s workforce and workplace, including workplace flexibility, health care and economic security benefits, care-giving leave and elder care assistance.

In the 2012 study, some of the most surprising findings have been around changes in provisions of workplace flexibility since 2005. Significantly more employers are allowing at least some employees to:

  • use flex time and periodically change starting and quitting times within some range of hours (66 percent in 2005 to 77 percent in 2012);
  • take time off during the workday to attend to important family or personal needs without loss of pay (77 percent in 2005 to 87 percent in 2012);
  • work some of their regular paid hours at home on an occasional basis (34 percent in 2005 to 63 percent in 2012); and
  • have control over their paid and unpaid overtime hours (28 percent in 2005 to 44 percent in 2012).

However, opportunities to work a reduced schedule or take extended leaves away from work have declined. Significant decreases were found in employers allowing at least some of their employees to:

  • return to work gradually after childbirth or adoption (86 percent in 2005 to 73 percent in 2012),
  • take a career break for personal or family responsibilities (73 percent in 2005 to 52 percent in 2012), and
  • move from full-time to part-time work and back again while remaining in the same position or level (54 percent in 2005 to 41 percent in 2012).

“It seems that employers are dealing with the lingering economic instability by trying to accomplish more with fewer people,” said Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of FWI and an author of the study. “Most of the gains allow employees to work longer hours or adjust those hours to care for their personal and family responsibilities while getting their work done. Although some may have expected employers to cut back on flexibility entirely during this economic downturn, we are seeing employers leverage flexibility as they look toward the future.”

“Employers continue to find ways to offer flexibility to their employees, despite economic challenges they may face,” said Henry G. (Hank) Jackson, president and CEO of SHRM. “As we look ahead, it is clear that in order to remain competitive, employers must find ways to offer flexible work options if they want to attract and retain top talent.”

While there has been a decrease in the maximum length of care-giving leaves for new fathers following childbirth, new adoptive parents, and employees caring for seriously ill family members, the study also found that more employers today are providing at least some replacement pay for maternity leave during the period of disability. However, fewer employers are likely to provide full replacement pay than in 2005.

Similarly, employers today are more likely to provide health insurance coverage for full-time employees than in 2005, but 41 percent have asked their employees to pay a larger proportion of the premium for personal health insurance over the past year.

“It is clear that employers continue to struggle with fewer resources for benefits that incur a direct cost,” said Ken Matos, senior director of employment research and practice at FWI and the lead author of the report. “However, they have made it a priority to grant employees access to a wider variety of benefits that fit their individual and family needs and that improve their health and well-being.”

The report is being released as a part of When Work Works, a joint initiative of FWI and SHRM, at SHRM’s 2012 Talent Management Conference and Exposition. A press briefing is scheduled for Monday, April 30, from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. EDT in suburban Washington, D.C.

Media: For more information about the National Study of Employers or to attend the press briefing via phone, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6260 and or Kelly Sakai of FWI at 718-715-8890 and

To download a copy of the report, please visit or

About 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
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 about 260,000 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 and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.

About When Work Works
When Work Works is a national initiative, led by the partnership of Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), to help organizations of all sizes and types become more successful by transforming the way they view and adopt effective and flexible workplaces. When Work Works is one of the foremost providers of resources, rigorous research and best practices on workplace effectiveness and flexibility in the nation. The initiative administers the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility annually, which recognize exemplary employers for using flexibility as an effective workplace strategy to increase business and employee success. Visit
for more information.



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