Would it surprise you that in a recent FlexJobs survey working parents rated work flexibility higher than salary? The survey asked almost 1,200 working parents who had children under the age of 18 what they felt about work, work/life balance and work flexibility. Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, gave us the scoop on their latest survey results.
What Working Parents Ranking Work Flexibility Higher Than Salary Means
Sara said the survey’s results were profound and says loud and clear that working parents value work flexibility.
In the past, she said, we’d believe that time is money, but now we see that our time is worth more than just money.
That’s not to downplay the crucial need to bring home a good paycheck.
“The survey results aren’t about money versus work flexibility. I believe that working parents have a financial baseline that is acceptable for their family and that once that level of security is reached work flexibility can become more important than salary. When you are at that baseline and you feel financially secure then you have choices.” said Sara.
Sara said in some ways work flexibility can help you get to that secure financial baseline. Work flexibility may help you do your job better and a result of that could come in a monetary form like a promotion or a raise. Work flexibility can be the key to financial security for some working parents.
Also for the unemployed, or under employed where they are working part-time in a role that is less than their professional skill set, work flexibility offers the opportunity to earn more in a job they can excel at on a schedule that works well for their family.
Work flexibility appeals to diverse audiences and demographics for many reasons:
- Respondents also span generations: Gen Z (1 percent), Millennial/Gen Y (22 percent), Gen X (46 percent), Baby Boomer (27 percent) and the Silent Generation (4%)
- Work flexibility appeals to highly educated and experienced workers. 73 percent of respondents have a college or graduate degree and 31 percent are manager level or higher.
- Other important factors for working include wanting to pay for basic necessities (80 percent), pay off debt (61 percent), have a professional impact in the world (41 percent), contribute to charity (28 percent), pay for child-related costs (27 percent), pay for kids’ education (27 percent), and pay for continuing education for themselves (25 percent).
- The majority of women in this survey report “needing” to work, but 66 percent-- two out of three --also report “wanting” to work.
"When you become a working parent you have so few choices. You can either continue to work on your career path or leave to become a stay at home parent because the financial equation of childcare costs didn’t work out. I love the concept of work flexibility. It adds weight to earning money and caring for your kids. Work flexibility gives you the option to better manage work and family life.” said Sara.
In the survey, working moms responded that work flexibility (83 percent) was ranked the most important job factor when evaluating a job prospect. Work-life balance ranked second at 75 percent and salary came in as the third most important factor (74 percent), ranked well above other factors such as health insurance (43 percent), company reputation (40 percent), and 401(k)/retirement benefits (31 percent).
The survey shows that getting a job with work flexibility was so important to working moms that they would sacrifice things such as:
- 29 percent of respondents said they would take a 10 percent or 20 percent cut in pay
- 21 percent are willing to forfeit vacation time
- 15 percent said they would give up employer-matching retirement contributions
- 82 percent of respondents also say they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options
How Work Flexibility Can Help Your Community
When I asked Sara what survey result surprised her the most she said,
“Parents would be more willing to volunteer at school! I want this statistic to be an eye opener to the US government and policy makers. Our public school educations systems are hurting, especially at the elementary level and parental involvement could be beneficial.”
Sara knows first-hand that teachers are bummed out that parents are missing out on school activities because of long work hours or work commitments. If schools got a healthy percentage of parents involved it would help the community, the children, and then trickle out into the system.
This statistic, Sara says, illuminates why work flexibility isn’t just about the person working a flexible schedule, it’s also about the people around them and their community.
Check out what the survey showed about working mom’s potential Increase in parental involvement at schools:
- 93 percent of working moms indicated that flexible work arrangements would increase their volunteerism at their children’s schools or organized activities
- Of those, 56 percent are moms who said they would start volunteering
- Another 34 percent who already currently volunteer said they would be able to volunteer more
The Survey is for the Working Parents Benefit and the Company's
I asked Sara how they use the information they gathered from their community and does it help companies consider more work/flex options and she said,
“We use our survey to help spread awareness about the type of people looking for work flex. There is still this stigmatism that says work from home jobs aren’t professional, are only entry level, and are low skilled and paid. But this survey shows that the majority of people looking to work from home are college educated. Their need for work flexibility has a lot to do with a better work/life fit.”
Some of the reasons why working flexibility would benefit working parents are:
- Work-life balance (80 percent), family (53 percent), time savings (48 percent) & commute stress (48 percent) are the top four reported reasons women seek flexible work.
- Time savings has outranked cost savings as a factor in seeking flexible work for the past four years
- 71 percent of today’s flexible job seekers have had round-trip commutes over double the national average, which is approximately 50 minutes
- Of those who telecommuted in 2015, 21 percent telecommuted more this year than last year
Sara sees these surveys as an educational candidate tool for companies. Before the recession, stay-at-home moms who wanted to re-enter the work force were the most under employed, untapped, difficult to find talent pool. These surveys and their job board show employers that these are highly developed candidates like these that are willing to work but need work flexibility.
The survey shows companies that if they offered work flexibility here are some ways it would benefit the company’s culture, they will retain more and recruit less (or better), and, most importantly, they’d have less stressed and happier employees.
The working moms who were surveyed believed that work flexibility would positively impact their health:
- 97 percent say a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life
- 80 percent think it would make them more healthy
- 87 percent think it would lower their stress
Let’s not forget the practical reasons like suffering from fewer interruptions which is why workers are more productive.
“A statistic that gets a lot of attention is that 93% of workers in our survey say they would not go to the office to be most productive! This is a really loud warning sign and companies are missing out on huge opportunities by not offering work flexibility.” said Sara.
Here are more statistics on productivity from FlexJobs survey:
- Only 6% of female workers report being most productive in the office during regular business hours. 50% prefer working at home when they need to get important work done
- The top reasons women are more productive working at home vs the office include fewer interruptions from colleagues (77%), fewer distractions (75%), and minimal office politics (69%)
Sara and her team at FlexJobs are paving the way for work flexibility. If you want to support their efforts, please go join their 1 Million for Work Flexibility and add your voice. Work flexibility is a great cure for work/life balance. It's time companies catch up with our modern family and offer more work flexibility options. Also, share this article with your company to help support your options for work flexibility