That was a key finding of a survey taken by marketing firm Aquent, the Tuck School of Business atDartmouth and Work+Life Fit, Inc.
According to a news release about the study, people who consider taking career breaks and who want more flexibility aren’t an aberration but instead reflect a broader overall shift in the traditional model of workday arrangements and a linear career path – particularly among Gen Xers as compared to Baby Boomers.
Some 63% of respondents said they would consider leaving the workplace for a period of time – a majority of both men (58%) and women (68%). According to the news release, the primary reasons for wanting to temporarily leave the workforce were parenthood (63%), an avocation/life outside of work (43%), stress/burnout (37%), and entrepreneurship (35%).
When asked how they would improve their current work situation, the most cited requests included:
- 28% of respondents want more day-to-day informal flexibility, and younger employees (26 – 41 years old) are most likely to want this flexibility (32%).
- 20% would like the flexibility to telecommute, and younger employees (26 – 41 years old) are most likely to want this flexibility (25%).
Men mistakenly believe their rationale for wanting a career break is not as accepted as women’s, according to the news release. While men are almost as interested in taking a break as women (59% versus 70%), they are hesitant because they believe women are more likely to be granted a break from the workplace.
Some 75% of men said that employers are more likely to say “yes” to a woman requesting a leave of absence from work. In addition, 85% of men said that employers are more likely to say “yes” to a person with children requesting a leave of absence from work.
Though flexibility has come a long way in workforce recruitment strategies, official corporate flexibility strategy still has a way to go if workplaces are going to benefit from the talent of an expanded talent pool. Only 52% of hiring managers view flexibility as a strategy for managing workflow and talent management challenges.
While a majority of hiring managers said flexible hours (91%), telecommuting (79%), and project-based employment (53%) are valid workplace options, a smaller percentage of hiring managers actually offer these options. Flexible hours are offered by 80% of companies, while telecommuting is offered by 55% and project-based employment is offered by 36%.
The targeted sample for the individual survey included male and female professionals ages 26 – 41 (Generation X) and ages 42 – 60 (Baby Boomers) whose minimum education consists of a four-year college degree. An online survey was sent to individuals using qualified lists and through the use of Web-based recruitment. A total of 495 professionals completed the survey.
The targeted sample for the corporate survey consisted of manager-, director-, or VP-level executives with responsibility for the hiring and/or management of employees, including the recruitment and retention of employees. An online survey was sent to manager-, director-, or VP-level executives using qualified lists. Executives from a total of 190 separate firms completed the survey.