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Flexibility by the Numbers: 500 Women Tell Us How They Deal with Work/Life Conflict

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What do women want? The security of a permanent job and the income it provides, the ability to do meaningful and productive work, and to ensure that their children get the single-minded focus they need and deserve. They also believe a flexible work arrangement is the key to making their wishes come true.

Flexible Resources, Inc. invented an entire new way to look at staffing – strategically – so that each position is structured in a way that best suits both the company and the employee. Over the past 20 years we have created thousands of  flexible positions for working moms, in companies from small start-ups to the Fortune 500.

We recently completed a survey of 500 professional women who are seeking flexible work arrangements. Their answers offer some provocative and new information, which we can support with anecdotal experience from both working moms and their bosses, whom we also surveyed separately. Here are some noteworthy stats:

  • 64 percent of our female candidates said they have quit or will quit their jobs to obtain a flexible work arrangement. This represents a tremendous – and avoidable – turnover cost.  
  • Most women – 59 percent – said they left their jobs without even asking if a flexible position could be arranged. They assume the worst about their companies when it comes to work-family issues.
  • However, 63 percent of those who did ask said their requests were granted. The story here – don’t assume  – you stand a good chance of getting what you want --  but it’s important to know how to ask for flexibility.
  • Contrary to the continuing belief that anyone who requests a flexible job isn’t serious about their career, the majority of women surveyed – 78 percent – said the flexible job they most want is permanent part-time. They do not want to work only occasionally. They want to pursue their careers with a steady job and income appropriate to their skill level.
  • A stunning 99 percent said a flexible schedule would make them more productive than a traditional work schedule.
  • The vast majority of women we surveyed say workday productivity is hampered by idle chit-chat, too many meetings and interruptions, thus…
  • Most take work home, come in early or work late to get work done that they cannot complete during the traditional workday. In other words, most are working out their own “flexible” schedules to complete all their work, because the traditional workplace often hinders productivity. Dedication to the job is simply not an issue for these women.

We’ve also recently completed surveys with dozens of managers, from those at small entrepreneurial companies to the Fortune 500, on how flexibility is working in the trenches. A frequent comment?” “We feared if we offered flexibility to one person, everyone would want it, but that hasn’t happened. When others do ask, we try to work something out.”

We are not a temp agency or a headhunter. We are the only company that helps companies establish flexibility position-by-position, and we advise management on the policies and practices of the flexible workplace. We recently launched a job-sharing counseling service, to help companies find job-share partners for valued employees who have requested flexible work arrangements. We also help HR people hire, evaluate and design benefits packages for job-share teams.