Families and Work Institute’s 2012 National Study of Employers (NSE) is the most comprehensive and far-reaching study of the practices, policies, programs and benefits provided by U.S. employers to address the changing needs of today’s workforce and workplace. The NSE is based on the Institute’s landmark 1998 Business Work-Life Study (BWLS) and has been conducted three additional times since the BWLS survey was completed (2005, 2008 and 2012).
The past seven years have been marked by economic instability—beginning with the worst recession since the Great Depression followed by a slow recovery and continuing high unemployment to this day. During this period of economic instability, employers’ practices, policies, programs and benefits have changed significantly. We have observed two broad trends in the provision of flexible work options from 2005 to 2012. First, employers have increased their provision of options that allow employees to better manage the times and places in which they work. These include flex time (from 66% to 77%); flex place (from 34% to 63%); choices in managing time (from 78% to 93%); and daily time off when important needs arise (from 77% to 87%). Second, employers have reduced their provision of options that involve employees spending significant amounts of time away from full-time work. These include moving from part-time to full-time and back again (from 54% to 41%); and flex career options such as career breaks for personal or family responsibilities (from 73% to 52%). The maximum length of caregiving leaves offered to new fathers following childbirth, new adoptive parents and employees caring for seriously ill family members has declined since 2005. Among those employers that provide any pay for disability related to childbirth (58%), far fewer provide full pay, now at 9%, down from 17% in 2005.