Work-Life Balance Surviving Recession - Employers Still Offering Opportunities for Flexibility


Work-Life Balance Surviving the Recession, According to Survey



Senior Executive working outside during out of office hours, unable to acheive a healthy work-life balance


Last month, the state and regional unemployment figures increased again, and CEOs at the nation’s largest companies predicted more layoffs. All of this took place just in time for the release of the 2009 Annual Work+Life Fit™ Reality Check survey results which found that 94% of full-time employees were willing to save their jobs by changing or reducing their schedule, or taking a pay cut. The Work+Life Fit™ Reality Check is a telephone survey of a national probability sample of 757 full-time employed adults, sponsored by Work+Life Fit, Inc. and conducted by Opinion Research Corporation. Other key findings from the survey included:

  • Nine in ten employees (90%) reported the recession has forced them to change their employment plans, including nearly half saying they’re less likely to take a career break, (to care for children or aging relatives, for example).
  • But what has not changed during the economic downturn is work-life flexibility. Most companies continue to offer the same or an increased amount of opportunities, and most employees reported their flexibility use has either increased or stayed the same during the past year.
  • More than half of those surveyed are optimistic that during President Obama’s administration that there will be new national legislation or programs that would make it easier for organizations to offer, and for individuals to have, more work-life flexibility.

What does all of this mean? Regardless of economic boom or doom conditions, it appears work-life flexibility is here to stay. Instead of focusing on whether or not flexibility exists, our attention has turned to the question of how to use flexibility to help manage our businesses and our lives, both of which are forever changed by this recession.

Minimal Changes to Work-Life Flexibility Offerings or Use

Only 2 percent of respondents to Work+Life Fit Inc’s survey reported they currently do not have any work-life flexibility. Of the 98 percent who do, nearly 20 percent reported they have more work-life flexibility now than at this time last year, while 62 percent said they had the same flexibility. Only 17 percent reported less. Overall:

  • 98% of respondents indicated they currently have work life flexibility.
  • 81% of respondents indicated the amount of flexibility they currently have either increased or stayed the same from this time last year.
  • 85% said the flexibility opportunities at their company either increased or stayed the same last year.
  • 85% reported there was either an increase or no change in the likelihood they would use work life flexibility with the increase in the amount of layoffs at companies, proving that job insecurity, for an overwhelming majority, has not scared employees away from flexibility.

A trend seems clear: flexibility is surviving the recession. Other findings that appear surprising in today’s economic climate include the following:

  • While 66% of survey respondents said they didn’t improve or use flexibility for one or more reasons, this was a decrease from 71% in 2007.
  • Only 22% said fears about losing their job kept them from using or improving their work life flexibility.
  • Fewer respondents, when compared to previous years’ findings, let concerns about making less money, hurting their career, and/or the perceptions of others restrict their use of flexibility. Women (38%) were significantly more likely than men (28%) to report being challenged by the fear they might make less money.

Employees are Optimistic about President Obama’s Support

More than half (56%) of those surveyed are optimistic that during President Obama’s administration there will be new national legislation or programs that will make it easier for organizations to offer, and for individuals to have, more work life flexibility. Women (62%) are significantly more optimistic than men (51%), and more women (67%) than men (55%) believe there should be such legislation or programs.


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