Vast Majority of Americans Favor Flexible Workplace Policies

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – June 19, 2014 – The vast majority of Americans (89%) feel employers should try to offer workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs, so long as the work gets done, signaling a strong sentiment in favor of the concept of flexible workplaces. What’s more, over half (52%) of U.S. workers (not including those self-employed) – and nearly six in ten working parents (58%) – feel they could do their job better if they were allowed a more flexible work schedule. Similarly, 43% of workers and 46% of working parents say they could do their job better if they were allowed a more consistent and/or predictable schedule.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 4,096 U.S. adults surveyed online between May 27 and 30, 2014.

    In fact, U.S. companies may be making some real gains in this area, as two-thirds of both overall Americans (67%) and, more specifically, U.S. workers (66%) believe employers are getting better at offering workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs.

    Workplace flexibility has moved from a niche concern to a mainstream reality, says Karen Kornbluh, Executive Vice President of External Affairs at Nielsen. Men, women, parents, Millennials are all interested – if it makes business sense – and employers seem to be responding.

    This progress may be increasingly important over time, as Millennial workers seem especially optimistic about flexible work schedules’ ability to improve job performance: over six in ten (61%) believe they could do their job better if they were allowed a more flexible schedule.

    Career implications

    This perceived improvement comes none too soon, as the struggle to achieve work-life balance seems to be impacting the career trajectories of many Americans; three in ten (29%) have chosen to pass up a job they felt would conflict with family obligations, and two in ten believe they’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a flexible (21%) or a consistent and/or predictable (also 21%) work schedule.

    Predictably, these obstacles are particularly prevalent among working parents, and even more so among single working parents:

    • Half of working parents (49%) and nearly six in ten single working parents (57%) have chosen to pass up a job they felt would conflict with family obligations.
    • Over a third of working parents (36%) and over half of single working parents (54%) believe they’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a flexible work schedule.

    Family life implications

    It’s not just careers which can suffer due to the need for flexibility – family time can suffer as well. Six in ten working parents (60%) say they don’t get to spend enough time with their families. Breadwinners – married or partnered workers who feel primarily responsible for their household’s income – are hardest hit by the struggle to log adequate family time, with over seven in ten (71%) indicating they don’t get to spend enough time with their families.

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    TABLE 1

    WORK & FAMILY STATEMENTS

    Summary Grid

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: U.S. adults

    AGREE (NET)

    Strongly agree

    Somewhat agree

    DISAGREE (NET)

    Somewhat disagree

    Strongly disagree

    Not Applicable

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Employers should try to offer workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs, so long as the work gets done.

    89

    47

    42

    11

    7

    4

    Employers are getting better at offering workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs.

    67

    13

    54

    33

    21

    12

    I feel like I could do my job better if I were allowed a more flexible schedule.

    52

    17

    35

    48

    27

    21

    I don’t get to spend enough time with my family.

    46

    13

    32

    54

    30

    24

    I feel like I could do my job better if I were provided with a more consistent/predictable schedule.

    43

    14

    30

    57

    28

    28

    I have chosen to pass up a job I felt would conflict with family obligations.

    29

    13

    16

    43

    15

    28

    28

    I believe I’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a flexible work schedule.

    21

    8

    13

    52

    16

    36

    27

    I believe I’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a consistent/predictable work schedule.

    21

    7

    14

    53

    19

    34

    27

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding

    Employed full and/or part time (but not self-employed)

    –Not Applicable not offered as a response option


    TABLE 2

    WORK & FAMILY STATEMENTS

    Agree Summary by Age & Gender

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: U.S. adults

    Total

    Age

    Gender

    18-34 (Millennials)

    35-44

    45-54

    55-64

    65+

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Employers should try to offer workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs, so long as the work gets done.

    89

    86

    89

    88

    90

    91

    86

    91

    Employers are getting better at offering workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs.

    67

    63

    64

    61

    70

    77

    67

    66

    I feel like I could do my job better if I were allowed a more flexible schedule.

    52

    61

    54

    45

    47

    26

    51

    52

    I don’t get to spend enough time with my family.

    46

    51

    46

    45

    45

    39

    46

    45

    I feel like I could do my job better if I were provided with a more consistent/predictable schedule.

    43

    51

    42

    36

    41

    27

    45

    41

    I have chosen to pass up a job I felt would conflict with family obligations.

    29

    33

    36

    31

    27

    16

    28

    29

    I believe I’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a flexible work schedule.

    21

    32

    27

    20

    17

    7

    22

    21

    I believe I’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a consistent/predictable work schedule.

    21

    30

    27

    17

    17

    8

    22

    19

    Note: Multiple responses allowed

    Employed full and/or part time (but not self-employed)


    TABLE 3

    WORK & FAMILY STATEMENTS

    Agree Summary by HH Income & Parental Status

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: U.S. adults

    Total

    Annual Household Income

    Parents/children <18 in HH

    <$50,000

    $50,000-<$75,000

    $75,000-<$100,000

    $100,000+

    Total

    Dads

    Moms

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Employers should try to offer workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs, so long as the work gets done.

    89

    87

    93

    89

    89

    87

    85

    89

    Employers are getting better at offering workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs.

    67

    63

    70

    70

    70

    60

    62

    58

    I feel like I could do my job better if I were allowed a more flexible schedule.

    52

    55

    57

    48

    49

    58

    59

    58

    I don’t get to spend enough time with my family.

    46

    48

    48

    41

    43

    48

    58

    40

    I feel like I could do my job better if I were provided with a more consistent/predictable schedule.

    43

    48

    48

    40

    36

    46

    49

    42

    I have chosen to pass up a job I felt would conflict with family obligations.

    29

    30

    33

    30

    27

    47

    43

    50

    I believe I’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a flexible work schedule.

    21

    26

    22

    24

    15

    34

    33

    34

    I believe I’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a consistent/predictable work schedule.

    21

    24

    21

    24

    15

    31

    33

    29

    Note: Multiple responses allowed

    Employed full and/or part time (but not self-employed)


    TABLE 4

    WORK & FAMILY STATEMENTS

    Agree Summary by Work & Family Status

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: U.S. adults

    Total

    Employed

    Working Caretakers

    Working Parents

    Total

    NOT Self-employed

    Total

    NOT Self

    Total

    NOT Self

    %

    %

    %

    Employers should try to offer workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs, so long as the work gets done.

    89

    89

    89

    90

    89

    89

    88

    Employers are getting better at offering workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs.

    67

    66

    66

    62

    62

    62

    63

    I feel like I could do my job better if I were allowed a more flexible schedule.

    52

    52

    52

    57

    57

    58

    58

    I don’t get to spend enough time with my family.

    46

    52

    54

    58

    61

    60

    61

    I feel like I could do my job better if I were provided with a more consistent/predictable schedule.

    43

    43

    44

    47

    47

    46

    45

    I have chosen to pass up a job I felt would conflict with family obligations.

    29

    33

    32

    48

    46

    49

    47

    I believe I’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a flexible work schedule.

    21

    25

    26

    34

    34

    36

    36

    I believe I’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a consistent/predictable work schedule.

    21

    24

    24

    33

    33

    35

    34

    Note: Multiple responses allowed

    Employed full and/or part time (but not self-employed)

    NOTE 1 – Caretakers refers to those who have are parents with children <18 residing in the household and/or who are at least partly responsible for the care of an elderly or sick relative.

    NOTE 2 – Parents refers specifically to those who are parents with children <18 residing in the household.


    TABLE 5

    WORK & FAMILY STATEMENTS

    Agree by Working Parent/Caretaker Segments

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: U.S. adults

    Total

    Single Working

    Breadwinner

    Teammate

    Non-SE working caregivers by whether emp. gives flexibility to meet families’ needs

    Caretaker

    Parent

    Caretaker

    Parent

    Caretaker

    Parent

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Employers should try to offer workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs, so long as the work gets done.

    89

    89

    87

    92

    91

    89

    88

    92

    81

    Employers are getting better at offering workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs.

    67

    68

    70

    61

    60

    61

    61

    74

    32

    I feel like I could do my job better if I were allowed a more flexible schedule.

    52

    65

    68

    55

    56

    53

    55

    55

    61

    I don’t get to spend enough time with my family.

    46

    60

    60

    69

    71

    60

    61

    59

    65

    I feel like I could do my job better if I were provided with a more consistent/ predictable schedule.

    43

    53

    54

    46

    47

    44

    43

    44

    55

    I have chosen to pass up a job I felt would conflict with family obligations.

    29

    50

    57

    46

    46

    44

    44

    48

    40

    I believe I’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a flexible work schedule.

    21

    44

    54

    31

    32

    31

    32

    32

    39

    I believe I’ve been passed over at some point for a promotion, a raise or a new job due to a need for a consistent/ predictable work schedule.

    21

    37

    39

    32

    33

    33

    34

    31

    39

    Note: Multiple responses allowed

    Employed full and/or part time (but not self-employed)

    NOTE 1: Caretaker – parents with children <18 residing in the household and/or are at least partly responsible for the care of an elderly or sick relative.

    NOTE 2 – Parent – parents with children <18 residing in the household.

    NOTE 3 – Single working – employed but not self-employed + not married, living with a partner or in a civil union.

    NOTE 4 – Breadwinner – employed full time + married, living with a partner or in a civil union + agree with the statement I feel like I’m expected to carry more responsibility for our financial security than my spouse/partner.

    NOTE 5 – Teammate -married, living with a partner or in a civil union + both respondent and spouse/partner work.


    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 27 and 30, 2014 among 4,096 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

    Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

    The Harris Poll #59, June 19, 2014

    By Larry Shannon-Missal, Manager, Harris Poll Content

    About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

    On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.