Monday, July 27, 2009

Workplace flexibility muscles through recession

Despite the recession, a majority of employers have maintained or increased their workforce flexibility programs. Recent research shows that more than a quarter of employers (26%) are used workplace flexibility programs in attempts to avoid layoffs in the last year.

The Impact of the Recession on Employers (.pdf) by the Families and Work Institute measured a variety of trends including how employers are reducing labor and operational costs, and how employers are helping workers deal with the recession.

"It is hardly surprising that our survey finds that 77% of employers are cutting and controlling labor and operational costs during the recession," said Ellen Galinsky, co-founder and president of FWI.

"What is surprising is that that between 34% to 43% of employers are actively helping employees weather the recession, that employers are largely retaining or increasing workplace flexibility as way to manage through a difficult economic environment, and that 57% of employers are giving employees some or a lot of input about the flexibility they use."

Other notable survey findings include:

  • Two-thirds of employers (66%) report a decline in revenues in the past 12 months. More than a quarter (28%) said revenues held steady and 6% saw increases in revenue.
  • Employers’ two most common cost-cutting strategies were decreasing/eliminating bonuses or salary increases (69%) and lay-offs (64%).
  • Most employers have maintained existing workplace flexibility options (81%) or increased them (13%). Another 6% had to reduce flexibility options.

The report also revealed how some employers have turned to their employees for ways to improve the business and cut costs. The most popular methods included a cost-savings program where employees submit cost-savings ideas and organizing active cost committees to make recommendations.

“Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of work-life balance policies to their bottom lines - now we see it's true in good times and in tough times," said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Chair of the Joint Economic Committee.

"Offering flexibility to workers is a low-cost way to boost morale, loyalty, and productivity. This new report by the Families and Work Institute, confirms that smart employers are working with their employees to avoid layoffs. More employers should see these policies as an essential element of the 21st century workplace.”

How has your company helped employees get through the recession? Did they use workplace flexibility programs and/or other employee benefit programs?

Please leave a comment and let us know.

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