New York Workers Speak: The Employee Case for Flexibility for Professional WorkersJune 29, 2011
The last national forum in the DOL series “National Dialogues on Workplace Flexibility” takes place in New York June 30. This event will focus on the challenges facing professional, white collar workers.
Family Values @ Work and the National Partnership for Women & Families talked to thirteen employees in New York a few weeks earlier about their experiences with managing work and caregiving responsibilities. Our report provides a snapshot of the challenges that workers face and the kinds of workplace flexibility that are most valuable to them.
Some of these professional workers have successfully negotiated an array of flexible working arrangements dealing with where and when and how many hours a week to work. Yet nearly all the women we talked to face penalties for doing so – being seen as less committed, earning less, facing barriers to advancement. They felt they must work extra-hard to prove their worth.
We also saw that most workers in these positions face significant barriers in accessing and utilizing even basic flexibility. Professional workers are often expected to work long hours and to be available after regular business hours. Most have paid sick days for themselves, but not necessarily for loved ones. The economic climate has only intensified concerns that workers with flexibility arrangements may be vulnerable to downsizing and layoffs.
Professional workers say workplaces that both offer and are accepting of flexibility generate a greater sense of loyalty and deeper employee engagement. They believe that workers using such arrangements are more efficient and productive and feel a higher level of commitment to their employers.