SHRM Survey: Employers Tailor Work Flex for Workers’ Needs

By HRM Online staff Apr 27, 2012

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Society for Human Resource Management members employ individuals with disabilities that qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Of these organizations, almost one-half (47 percent) have created flexible work arrangements for this population, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey, Workplace Flexibility for Select Populations.

The survey of a representative sample of SHRM members was conducted Feb. 8-27, 2012. Key findings are summarized below.

Workers with Disabilities

Of organizations employing individuals with ADA-qualified disabilities and offering flexible work arrangements created for these employees, the most common flexible work arrangements were:

  • Reduced work hours (60 percent).
  • Traditional flextime (59 percent).
  • Telecommuting/working from home options (55 percent).
  • Break arrangements (47 percent).

Twenty-nine percent of HR professionals report that their organizations actively recruit employees with ADA-qualified-disabilities, 32 percent said their organizations actively attempt to retain workers with disabilities and 23 percent offer supervisor/managerial training related to providing flexible options to support this population.


A majority (87 percent) of HR professionals report that their organizations employ veterans, and 41 percent recruit veterans actively. However, of the organizations that currently employ veterans, only 10 percent have implemented flexible work arrangements that were specifically created for this population.

Organizations that provide veteran employees with flexible work arrangements typically offer:

Shift flexibility (66 percent).

  • Last-minute flexibility (55 percent).
  • Traditional flextime (52 percent).
  • Telecommuting/work from home options (52 percent).

Of organizations that do not employ veterans, 23 percent indicated that they would provide flexible work arrangements if a veteran requested such arrangements, while 73 percent indicated that the decision would be made on a case-by-case basis.

Low-Wage/Hourly Workers

Approximately three-quarters of organizations (78 percent) employ low-wage hourly workers earning $15.50 an hour or less. Of these organizations, 25 percent have created and implemented flexible work arrangements for these employees.

Common flexible work arrangements provided to low-wage hourly employees include:

  • Reduced work hours (71 percent).
  • Traditional flextime (61 percent).
  • Shift flexibility (59 percent).
  • Break arrangements (51 percent).
  • Leave for caregiving (51 percent).

Twenty-five percent of organizations currently employing low-wage hourly workers have created and implemented flexible work arrangements specifically for these employees. Of the organizations that actively recruit low-wage hourly workers, 21 percent of them use flexible work arrangements as a means to recruit this population.

Parents with Dependent Care Responsibilities

Roughly one-third of organizations (32 percent) indicated they have created and implemented flexible work arrangements for parents with dependent care responsibilities. Common flexible work arrangements among these organizations are:

  • Traditional flextime (73 percent).
  • Last-minute flexibility (65 percent).
  • Reduced work hours (57 percent).
  •  Leave for caregiving (57 percent).

Only 5 percent of organizations had made an effort to ask fathers what they need in terms of workplace flexibility, the survey found.

Flex Policy Obstacles

The main obstacles to implementing flexible work arrangements, according to surveyed HR professionals, are concerns about providing equal treatment for employees, ensuring that the work is done, the impracticality of such arrangements given the nature of jobs in the organization’s industry, the difficulty in supervising employees working off site, and possible co-worker resentment.

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