Flexible Work Should be Primary Work/Life Goal of Next President

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Survey shows employers and workers agree: Congress should pass Equal Pay and Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave legislation. Based on the results of a survey by Life Meets Work and Ask Liz Ryan, 70% of workers surveyed believe that the next US president should make flexible work options his greatest work/life priority.

We have a long tradition of viewing the needs of workers and the needs of companies in opposition. Instead, we need to focus on unleashing the power of the untethered worker, in order to vastly improve the productivity and profitability of our enterprises.

Workers expect the next president of the United States to help them better balance work and family. Based on the results of a survey by Life Meets Work and Ask Liz Ryan, 70% of workers surveyed believe that the next US president should make flexible work options his greatest work/life priority, followed by equal pay and affordable child care. Workers and employers agree that Congress should enact legislation to address equal pay, paid maternity/paternity leave, affordable childcare and flexible work options (in order of importance).

Not surprisingly, Americans named "managing my work schedule" and "worrying about retirement" as their biggest work/life concerns. "Americans are faced with a lot of pressures as they manage their personal lives, their families and their work obligations," said Kyra Cavanaugh, president of Life Meets Work Inc. "While most employers accommodate flexibility on an individual basis, it's time we looked at the bigger picture. The need for flexibility affects all workers, not just those returning to work, or dealing with a sick relative, and there's a role for government and employers to play in rethinking the rules around how we work."

Other findings include:

  • Both employers (63%) and workers (78%) support the Working Families Flexibility Act. The act (S. 2419 has been referred to the Senate Committee of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) would give every worker the right to request job flexibility and would require employers to respond to the request.
  • Workers and employers disagree on whether to protect caregivers from discrimination by designating them as a protected class through the EEOC:

58% of workers would support such action and 65% of employers would not.

  • Employers were split nearly 50/50 on whether government should be involved in monitoring or regulating corporate work/life programs. Workers slightly favored more regulation with 55.4% wanting government to be "somewhat" to "very involved."

Breaking down stereotypes and training managers to oversee flexible work teams are the biggest challenges to flexible workplaces, the study found. "Managers struggle to see the value, seeing only the issues it would create internally," said Liz Ryan, president of Ask Liz Ryan. "We need to let go of the leash of the 40-hour work week."

"We have a long tradition of viewing the needs of workers and the needs of companies in opposition. Instead, we need to focus on unleashing the power of the untethered worker, in order to vastly improve the productivity and profitability of our enterprises." Cavanaugh added.

The results of the survey will be presented at a webinar on October 28, 2008. Register here.

The survey Flexing, Floundering or 'Just Fine Thanks': Work/Life Issues in America was conducted by Life Meets Work and Ask Liz Ryan to gather attitudes and opinions of workers and employers about work/life challenges and the role of government in flexible work programs. The online survey was completed by 684 people between October 7 and October 20, 2008.

About Life Meets Work Inc: Life Meets Work is a web-based company dedicated to fostering flexible work through information, resources, community and a job board. For more information, contact Kyra Cavanaugh, president, at 888-462-5691

About Ask Liz Ryan: Ask Liz Ryan is a human resources and leadership consultancy, and think tank focused on the new-millennium workplace. The Ask Liz Ryan online community reaches over 30,000 men and women on five continents with business, career and life advice. For more information, contact Liz Ryan at 303-440-0408

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