The White House Emphasizes the Significance of Workplace Flexibility

Apr 01, 2010


By:  Andrea Lindemann

The President's Council of Economic Advisers recently released a report that shows why workplace flexibility is important for workers and their families as well as employers.

The report, Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility, recognizes that society and the workforce have changed significantly over the past half century and that businesses must adapt to the changing realities of workers.  It further emphasizes that paid leave is an important source of workplace flexibility, especially for workers who lack financial resources.

Citing the 2008 National Study of Employers, the report notes that only about half of employees have paid time off to care for the health of their families.

While quantifying costs and benefits of workplace flexibility is difficult, one-third of workers, the report notes, consider work-life balance and flexibility to be the most important factor in a job.  Implementing flexible work-life policies benefits employers by reducing turnover thereby lowering recruitment costs, reducing absenteeism, and making workers productive.

  • One study found that hiring costs account for more than $2,500 per hire in large firms.
  • The results of a survey conducted in New York showed that employers who offered flexible sick leave and child care had significantly lower rates of turnover.
  • A study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that workplace intervention (supervision by family supportive managers) resulted in employees less likely to say that they felt forced to go to work when they were sick or not see a doctor when they felt they should. The workers had increased energy, improved sleep quality, and reduced psychological stress.

The report concludes that implementing workplace flexibility policies will help workers, businesses' bottom lines, and the country as a whole.


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