Employers More "Flexible" During Recession

July 24, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Findings of a new survey suggest employers see flexible work arrangements as a way to cut costs during the recession without cutting employees.

The study released by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) finds that the majority of employers (94%) are maintaining or increasing their workplace flexibility programs, and a quarter of the employers (26%) specifically used flexible workplace options – from reduced work weeks to telecommuting – to minimize the need for layoffs.

“It is hardly surprising that our survey finds that 77% of employers are cutting and controlling labor and operational costs during the recession,” said Ellen Galinsky, co-founder and president of FWI, in a press release. “What is surprising is that that between 34% to 43% of employers are actively helping employees weather the recession, that employers are largely retaining or increasing workplace flexibility as way to manage through a difficult economic environment, and that 57% of employers are giving employees some or a lot of input about the flexibility they use.”

A large majority of employers are either maintaining the workplace flexibility options they offer (81%) or increasing them (13%), the press release said. Only 6% have reduced such options.

Ninety percent of employers experiencing lower revenues have taken steps to reduce labor and operational costs, with the most common strategies including:

  • Decreasing/eliminating bonuses or eliminating salary increases (69%);
  • Lay-offs (64%);
  • Hiring freeze (61%); and
  • Eliminating all travel that is not essential to business (57%).

In addition, the study of 400 employers found that 18% of employers with 25% or more union employees are offering buyouts or other inducements for early retirement versus 6% for other employers.

The study can be downloaded from www.familiesandwork.org .