September 5, 2012
Workers want flexibility so badly, we're willing to sacrifice salary
A new survey just released by Mom Corps, a national flexible staffing firm, shows what many of us know anecdotally: Flexible work options are so important to many workers that they are willing to sacrifice a chunk of salary to get them.
The second annual online survey was conducted for Mom Corps by Harris Interactive from July 26-30, 2012, among 1,096 working adults.
Overall, 45 percent of those surveyed reported that they are willing to give up some percentage of their salary for more flexibility at work, and the amount of money they are willing to relinquish (5.8 percent of their salary among last year's workers vs. 8.6 percent this year) is on the rise.
Not surprisingly, the appeal of flexibility is greatest among the 18-34 age group, where workers are simultaneously juggling young families and careers. On average, these employees would be willing to give up almost 14 percent of their salary for flexibility. Eight out of 10 of those employees report already having a "at least a little flexibility" at their current job.
So, what are we talking about here?
Flexibility at work can mean working remotely once or more per week; working reduced, part-time or alternate schedule hours; job sharing; and flexibility when it comes to taking time off.
Flexibility offers many benefits to both the employee and the employer. A University of Minnesota study published in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior reported that an initiative to increase flexibility at Best Buy (employees could routinely change when and where they worked without seeking permission from a manager or even notifying one, among other changes) reduced turnover by 45 percent. Workers also reported better sleep quality and energy levels and decreased emotional exhaustion and psychological distress.
Employees who have flexibility also tend to report greater engagement on the job, greater job satisfaction and greater desire to stay with the organization.
How, then, do we gain more flexibility? An organization I really like, When Work Works, offers a wealth of information for both employees and employers, including tip sheets and organizational plans, about how to move toward greater workplace flexibility.
Other results from the Mom Corps survey:
Sixty-one percent of workers strongly or somewhat agree 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 strongly agree.
Sixty-seven percent of working adults agree that it is possible to "have it all" when it comes to work-life balance, with little difference between women (68 percent) and men (66 percent).
Fifty-two percent of working adults would be interested in starting their own business in order to achieve a better work-life balance, led by men age 35-44 (75 percent).
More than half (53 percent) of working adults think they would get more work done if they had the ability to work from home occasionally. Sixty-two percent of 18-34-year-olds agree.
Also interesting: Sixty percent of survey respondents agree that the state of the economy has no impact on their desire for increased flexibility at work.
More than four out of five working parents feel that flexible work options would allow them to be a better parent to their children. Seventy-one percent agree that flexibility is one of the most important factors they consider when looking for a new job or deciding what company to work for.
The local Seattle Mom Corps office routinely helps workers find flexible employment options.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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