Women less likely to reap benefits

by Rose Sneyd15 Apr 2013

It may be counter-intuitive, but your male employees are more likely to make use of flexible work arrangements or other benefits than your female staff, according to new research.

Only 38% of women employees avail themselves of flexible-work arrangements, compared with 42% of men. In addition, while just 37% of women employees regularly use those benefits ‘designed to help them meet demands outside the office’, that figure is 42% for men.

These are some of the results of a survey of 1,501 US adults that was conducted in January by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) Center for Organizational Excellence (COE).

The focus of employers should, therefore, no longer be solely on meeting the needs of women, but on meeting the needs of all employees, according to David Ballard, head of the COE. Ballard told HRE Online that an earlier APA study showed that one of the top two factors that cause people to stay in a job is that the job fits well with the demands of their personal lives. “This should be a huge wake-up call for employers that workplace flexibility isn’t just for women and [their] family demands,” he said. “It’s more of a human issue now.”

This statement appears to be supported by the fact that one third of all respondents to the survey, both men and women, reported that when their job interfered with their personal lives, it had a significant impact on their stress levels at work. Furthermore, one quarter of workers reported that the demands of their job do interfere with their ability to fulfil personal responsibilities.

On the other hand, Ballard warned against reaching the conclusion that woman are afraid of being penalised and therefore refrain from using these benefits. “We also have studies showing men feel more penalized making use of flexible or work/life benefits typically thought of as for women,” he explained.

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