U.S. Workers Willing to Earn Less for Workplace Flex

Significant preferences for more control over work schedules

By SHRM Online staff Sep 12, 2011
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Flexible work options are significantly important to working professionals as a deciding factor when taking a job, with some even willing to give up salary to get it, according to a survey of working U.S. adults. The findings offer insight on gender and age differences as a means to surface ideas and dialogue around current workplace trends.

The survey, fielded in the second half of 2011 and sponsored by Mom Corps., a flexible staffing firm, showed that:

More than two in five working adults (42 percent) are willing to give up some percentage of their salary for more flexibility at work; about 6 percent is the average employees are willing to relinquish.

Perhaps surprisingly, working men (12 percent) are twice as likely as working women (6 percent) to say they would be willing to give up more than 10 percent of their salary to receive more flexibility at work.

The 18-34 age group is up to three times more likely to give up more than 10 percent of their salary (15 percent among 18-34-year-old workers vs. 5 percent among working adults ages 35+), even though the unemployment rate for young workers is at its worst since 1948 and the highest among all age groups, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The fact that employees of all ages are willing to give up any percentage of their salary in exchange for more flexibility over their work schedule is significant, especially given the current economic climate and record unemployment rates,” said Allison O’Kelly, founder and CEO of Mom Corps. “The way a majority of corporate America works no longer aligns with the way U.S. families conduct their daily lives. Participating in some form of flexible work option allows employees to regain a modicum of work/life balance, and successful companies know that this also can yield a significant return on investment for them.”

More than three in five working adults (62 percent) agreed that flexibility is one of the most important factors they consider when looking for a new job or deciding what company to work for, and one in five (21 percent) strongly agree.

“Employees are realizing they have a voice in asking for work options, and a highly volatile economic environment isn’t deterring this attitude,” O’Kelly added. “The desire for workplace flexibility is strong today and will only gain popularity as the job market begins to stabilize. Employees have a responsibility to their future career growth to learn and understand their opportunities.”

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‘The desire for workplace flexibility is strong today
and will only gain popularity as the job market
begins to stabilize.’
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Generation X and Millennials Agree

Slightly more than half (51 percent) of 18-44-year-old working adults said they plan to look for a new job with an employer that offers flexible work options within the next three years. Nearly one in four (22 percent) working adults 45 and older plan to do the same. Organizations not offering at least some element of alternative work options need to realize that employees have enough options today that finding another job matching their lifestyle preference is no longer an insurmountable obstacle. Workplace flexibility is an increasingly important recruiting tool.

Parents are Serious about Work/Life Fit

More than four in five working parents (82 percent) feel that flexible work options would allow them to be better parents to their children, and two in five (40 percent) strongly agree. Interestingly, there is no gender difference here. So, while working mothers are often thought to be the impetus for workplace flexibility, working fathers are also seeking more balance between work and life as it relates to their children.

Organizations that extend flexibility to employees are best poised to hire and maintain top talent. And a news flash to companies: 79 percent of working mothers and 77 percent of working fathers agree they would stay with a company longer if it offered flexible work options. More than two in five working mothers (43 percent) strongly agree.

Only half of all working parents said they preferred to work a traditional 9-to-5 workday, and there was no gender difference among respondents. There were some interesting regional variances, however, with workers in the South preferring the traditional workday more so than those in the Midwest (65 percent vs. 35 percent).

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Benefits Discipline

SHRM Online Workplace Flexibility Resource Page

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