Most employers help workers balance workload, personal lives: Survey

Telecommuting, flexible work hours, job sharing, extra time off popular options

Telecommuting, flexible work hours, job sharing and extra time off are the norm for many workers as employers help workers better balance workplace and personal demands on their time, according to a survey of 164 organizations by Hewitt Associates.

Only one-third of employees work a regular full-time work week of between 35 and 40 hours — 45 per cent work one to five hours extra a week, 23 per cent work five to 10 hours more and one per cent work 10 to 15 additional hours.

"With so many employees giving up their personal time to their jobs, progressive organizations are willing to offer them a work schedule that enables them to better meet their personal needs," said Rochelle Morandini, a senior consultant in Hewitt Canada's organizational health practice.

Other highlights from the survey include:

• Eighty-six per cent of organizations offer flexible work hours for all or a portion of the employee population, although 68 per cent require employees to be on the job for certain core hours of the day.

• Seventy-seven per cent permit all or some employees to telecommute regularly and 90 per cent of those that do so negotiate the terms with individual employees based on an approved business case.

• Seventy-four per cent provide extra paid time off for personal reasons in addition to regular vacation time.

• Sixty-five per cent allow for time off for education leave. Twenty-two per cent of organizations that do so provide one to five days off per year, while 56 per cent make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

• Fifty-four per cent enable some or all employees to job share.

• Forty-three per cent of organizations authorize a compressed work week, with only 18 per cent doing so on the basis of the seasonality of the company's work.

• Thirty-six per cent offer sabbatical leave. Of those, 54 per cent provide six to 24 months off, while a further 31 per cent assess situations individually. Very few employers (four per cent) pay employees during a sabbatical but of those that do, two-thirds allow them to bank a portion of their salary in advance of the leave.

• Thirty-two per cent of employers support volunteerism by providing employees with extra paid time off. Fifty-six per cent of those that do allow one to five days per year; 32 per cent have either no set policy, sponsor specific activities or decide on a case-by-case basis.

“We can expect these programs to become even more prevalent as employees begin to see them as common practice and demand for them increases,” said Morandini. “Forward-thinking employers that want to maintain a competitive advantage are thinking about the 'next generation' of flexible workplace strategies, such as eliminating core hours, allowing employees to be completely virtual, and using technology to enable workers to gain global work experience, no matter where they're located."

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