Support through your toughest HR challenges: A network of 285,000 HR professionals.
Shawn Premer shows how doing the right thing for employees leads to positive business results.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Flex options are often left to the manager's discretion, with no manager training
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
While a large majority (98 percent) of U.S. employers offer at least one workplace flexibility program, most (nearly 60 percent) use an informal approach, such as no written policies or forms, or leave it up to manager discretion, according to a Survey on Workplace Flexibility from WorldatWork, an association of total rewards professionals.
Compounding matters, most U.S. organizations (79 percent) that offer flexibility programs do not provide training to the managers of employees using these programs.
WorldatWork collected survey data Oct. 20-Nov.2, 2010, among its members employed in the HR and compensation and benefits departments at mostly U.S. organizations.
The study found that a stronger culture of flexibility is correlated with a lower voluntary turnover rate. In addition, most employers report that workplace flexibility had a positive impact on employee satisfaction, motivation and engagement. But surprisingly, the study found no correlation between the number of programs offered and turnover rates.
“When it comes to workplace flexibility programs, culture trumps policy,” said Rose Stanley, a practice leader for WorldatWork. “It’s not about the quantity or formality of programs offered; it’s about how well supported and implemented the programs are across the organization.”
The survey covered 12 flexibility programs and found that, on average, organizations offer six types at one time. Companies tailor their flexibility programs to fit the needs of their workforces as well as their organizational priorities. The most prevalent programs are:
• Flex-time(flexible start/stop times).• Part-time schedules(with or without benefits).• Teleworking on an ad hoc basis(meet a repair person, sick child, etc.).
• Flex-time(flexible start/stop times).
• Part-time schedules(with or without benefits).
• Teleworking on an ad hoc basis(meet a repair person, sick child, etc.).
Each of these programs are offered to some or all employees in more than 80 percent of surveyed organizations. When offered, they are the most commonly used by employees, with flex-time the highest ranked.
Prevalence of Flexibility Programs
% of organizations that offer to all or some employees
Part-time schedules (with or without benefits)
Flex-time (flexible start/stop times)
Telework on an ad hoc basis (meet a repair person, sick child, etc.)
Phased return from leave
Telework on a regular monthly basis (at least one day per month but not full-time)
Telework on a regular weekly basis (at least one day per week but not full-time)
Combination of programs tailored to fit employees
Telework full time (every regularly scheduled workday)
Career on/off ramps
*Compressed 40-hour workweeks include a 4/10 one-week schedule with employees working four 10-hour days, and a 9/80 two-week schedule with employees working eight nine-hour days and one eight-hour day, with the tenth day off.
Different sectors emphasize flexibility programs with varying degrees, the survey found:
• Compressed workweeks are most prevalent in the public sector (68 percent vs. 52 percent of all respondents).• Part-time schedules are most common among nonprofit organizations (90 percent vs. 84 percent of all respondents).• Ad hoc telework is most frequently offered by publicly traded companies (89 percent vs. 83 percent of all respondents).
• Compressed workweeks are most prevalent in the public sector (68 percent vs. 52 percent of all respondents).
• Part-time schedules are most common among nonprofit organizations (90 percent vs. 84 percent of all respondents).
• Ad hoc telework is most frequently offered by publicly traded companies (89 percent vs. 83 percent of all respondents).
Organizations with telework programs are likely to feature them when recruiting talent, the survey found, indicating that they use these programs to distinguish themselves as an employer-of-choice.
Obstacles to Implementation
The study, however, revealed several common obstacles to adopting effective flexibility programs including:
• Lack of training.• Top management resistance (more so than middle management).• Lack of employee interest in programs such as phased return from leave, phased retirement and career on/off ramps.
• Lack of training.
• Top management resistance (more so than middle management).
• Lack of employee interest in programs such as phased return from leave, phased retirement and career on/off ramps.
“Telework on a regular or full-time basis might be even more common if not for certain obstacles,” said Alison Avalos, research manager for WorldatWork. “Nearly four in every 10 surveyed organizations say that resistance from top management and/or the lack of jobs conducive to these arrangements are keeping them from offering all types of telework programs.”
The full report, along with additional resources, are available from WorldatWork here (sign-up required).
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Workplace Flexibility valued by Low-Wage Workers, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, February 2011
SHRM Online Benefits Discipline
SHRM OnlineWorkplace Flexibility Resource Page
• Sign up for SHRM’s free Compensation & Benefits e-newsletter
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Talent Attraction Study: What Matters to the Modern Candidate
Become a SHRM Member
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies