Why It Matters
The 21st century workforce is a very different one from that of the 20th century.
- Dual earner couples are the norm.
- Older workers need to work longer to save for retirement.
- Men and women want to share caregiving responsibilities.
- There are many more single-parent families.
- Many lower-wage workers have nonstandard work schedules and multiple jobs to make ends meet.
- More people with disabilities are working but need a range of supports.
And the list goes on.
This increased diversity and complexity within the American workforce – combined with intensifying global competition in a 24/7 marketplace – have raised unprecedented organizational and societal challenges that impact both employers and employees.
The reality of today’s economy is that a majority of workers are struggling to succeed in the workplace while also fulfilling serious personal responsibilities – be it caring for a sick child or parent, obtaining advanced training in order to move up, attending religious services, or even seeing a doctor to address a health crisis.
And yet, the structure of the American workplace has failed to adjust to this new reality. We live in a world of changing individuals and often-unyielding institutions.
American workplaces can and should reflect the realities of the 21st century workforce. And we believe expanding access to workplace flexibility will result in better business, a stronger workforce, and healthier families.
Workplace flexibility – encompassing solutions ranging from compressed workweeks to telecommuting and phased retirement to extended time off – can enable workers to meet the often-competing demands of work and personal life.
Access to workplace flexibility has been shown to –
- Increase business effectiveness and improve the bottom line
- Increase parental involvement in children’s lives
- Improve health and wellness for workers of all ages, professions and income levels
- Increase the ability of older workers to remain engaged in the workplace
- Support gender equity by allowing men and women to participate in caregiving and more
At the same time, workplace flexibility serves as a strategic management tool for employers in a range of industries across the country. It is being used to enhance efficiency and performance – and support the development of a stronger, more resilient workforce.