Employees in the U.S. are sensing a weakened commitment from their managers when it comes to work-life balance. Some employees point to examples at high-profile companies like Yahoo! and Best Buy, which last year put an end to their telework and flexible work programs, as reasons for that weakened sense of commitment, but most employees are pointing to a lack of adequate training and guidance, according to a new study.
The study, released last week by Flex+Strategy Group and Work+Life Fit, Inc., found that while 97 percent of the 556 full-time employees surveyed reported having some form of work-life flexibility in 2013, 45 percent perceive a waning commitment to flexibility from their employers.
“Most of us are flying by the seat of our pants when it comes to making flexibility work,” Cali Williams Yost, a flexible workplace strategist, author and leader of Flex+Strategy Group, told Wired Workplace. “When you see that more than half weren’t able to use the flexibilities they have because of workload, time and fears about their jobs, it’s evident that people are not being given the skills and tools to be a good partner in flexible work success.”
One of those tools, Yost said, is effective training and guidance, on topics ranging from how to make the most effective use of technology for remote work to maintaining balance at home with the “always on” culture of mobile devices. More than half (57 percent) of employees surveyed said they did not receive training or guidance on how to manage work-life flexibilities.
In addition, those who did receive employer training were significantly likely to say their employer had a strong commitment to work-life flexibility (58 percent) versus those who did not receive training and guidance (38 percent).
“Training is more than handing someone a laptop or mobile phone,” Yost said. “We have to show people how to capture and use the work-life flexibility that is available and that makes sense for their jobs to manage the fit between work and the other parts of their life.”
While the Flex+Strategy Group’s study was not federal government-specific, the results of the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey – in which telework was the only area where feds cited a higher level of satisfaction – may speak for themselves when it comes to gauging overall sense of commitment to flexible work among federal managers. Of course, that is if your manager allows you to telework in the first place.
What are your thoughts on the study? If you’re a teleworker, is your manager still as committed as they have been in the past? Is federal training on programs like telework adequate?