Memo to Women in Corporate America: Pick One – Mother or Leader

Data Point Tuesday
SHRM
and the Families and Work Institute have recently released their 2014 National Study of Employers (NSE), which identifies changes in the workplace since 2008. The report sample includes 1,051 employers with 50 or more employees, with 67% of these organizations for-profit employers and 33% are nonprofit organizations. 39% operate at only one location, while 61% percent have operations at more than one location. A pretty big sample. And the trends are interesting. Some make sense. And some, well, not so much.

Workplace flexibility is top of mind for many business leaders, and the 2014 National Study of Employers notes two major trends between 2008 and 2014 related to this. First, employers have continued to increase the amount of options that allow at least some employees to better manage the times and places in which they work, including occasional flex place (from 50% to 67%); control over breaks (84% to 92%); control over overtime hours (27% to 45%) and time off during the workday when important needs arise (73% to 82%). Second, employers have reduced the amount of programs that give employees the opportunity to spend significant amounts of time away from full-time work. These include sharing jobs (29% to 18%), working part year on an annual basis (27% to 18%), and flex career options like sabbaticals (38% to 28%) and career breaks for personal or family responsibilities (from 64% to 52%). So, yes to more control over place and time while working and no to opportunities to not work.
SHRM Flexibility Chart
A continuing trend from 2008 to 2014 is “12 weeks of leave.” No doubt based on the FMLA, this is usually given for the birth of a child, adoption of a child, or serious family illness. 12 weeks has become the norm, with more employers offering this amount of time since 2008. Currently, 93% of employers offer women 12 weeks of leave after giving birth (85% in 2008), 89% of employers offer employees 12 weeks after the adoption of a child (81% in 2008), and 90% of employers offer employees 12 weeks leave to care for seriously ill family (84% in 2008). Despite these increases, it’s disappointing to note that the maximum length of caregiving leaves offered to new fathers, new adoptive parents, and employees caring for seriously ill family members, as well as disability pay, has declined since 2008. Additionally, support from employers in areas like diversity and inclusion is declining, with fewer employers training supervisors in managing employees of different ages (59% in 2008 and 52% in 2014) and fewer employers providing career counseling programs or management/leadership programs for women (12% in 2014 vs. 16% in 2008). Also along this line, fewer employers report that supervisors are encouraged to assess employee performance by what they accomplish vs. by just “face-time” (71% in 2008 and 64% in 2014). So yes to new birth mothers and no to just about everything else. Hmmm…

What support programs then, are workplaces increasing for employees? Employers are increasingly helping employees with elder care, with employers in 2014 12% more likely to report that they offer Elder Care Resource and Referral than employers in 2008. Employers are also 18% more likely in 2014 than 2008 to offer DCAPs (Dependent Care Assistance Programs) for elder care and 4% more likely to offer access to respite care. Wellness programs are also increasing, with 60% of workplaces providing wellness programs today (compared to 51% in 2008). SHRM and the Families and Work Institute’s report also noted an increase in the amount of workplaces providing Employee Assistance Programs to help with personal/family problems and pressures (78% now, compared with 58% in 2008). When it comes to healthcare, 98% of employers provide personal health insurance for full-time employees, a 3% increase from 2008. Additionally, there has been a 6% increase in employers providing more health care coverage for family members of full-time employees from 2008 to 2014 (91% to 97%), and a huge increase between 2008 and 2014 in the amount of employers providing health insurance for domestic partners (29% to 43%). Lastly, almost all employers (96% of those with 50+ employees) provide 401(k) or 403(b) retirement plans, and 80% of employers make contributions to employees’ individual retirement plans.

While it’s easy to provide reasoning for many of these trend changes (more elder care due to an aging workforce, more domestic partner coverage due to changes in legal and societal perceptions of the LGBT community, more employee assistance programs due to increasingly stressful work environments, etc.) it’s harder to pinpoint the cause of others, like the decrease in leadership programs for women. Could one conclude that that the rising incidences of providing new birth mothers time off has influenced the decrease of leadership development programs for women? Probably not, but it’s interesting to think about, isn’t? This data could support the view that corporate America may be telling women that they’ll support their role as mothers but not their roles as leaders…

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, SHRM, Workflex

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