WorkPlace Trends to Accommodate Diversity

Wanted: Flexible Work Arrangements
Taking your Work/life Policy Abroad
Fact Sheet: Work and Eldercare

Increasingly companies around the world are adjusting conventional working hours for employees. This is due to: Throughout the industrialized world, businesses are seeing a change in work times. Initially, there was little divergence in world-wide work times; people worked primarily in agriculture and both men and women worked, at home on the farm, approximately 2950 hours per year. As economies improved after the post-war years, there was a general decline in work-time (40% reduction) with the 40 hour work week seen as a reasonable goal. With the Information Age, there is a chance that there will be return to the pre-industrial family social structure where parents can work a significant amount of work time in the home.

The harmonization of work-week standards, however, began to unravel in the 1970s. The different industrial relations (unions), social structures (masculine versus feminine) and economic conditions (growth versus recession) mean standardizing work-time across nations is almost impossible. Diversification in work-times now varies by sector, company, and even by individual worker.

Economic growth and rising standards of living tend to result in the demand for greater leisure time which is an important determinant of the long term decline in hours worked across all countries. In Europe, there has also been a trend of reduced working time (due to labor union's bargaining) in order to share the work among more people.

The US, Canada, and Japan tend to give firm's more independence and authority in determining working hours so there is greater disparity between enterprises. Especially in Japan there is no general working time standard.

It is useful to look at yearly working hours as this includes weekly hours, holidays, and holiday entitlement days. In the US and Japan average paid annual holiday entitlements amount only to about 2 weeks while in Europe 5 or 6 weeks are common.

Alternative work schedules

While work-week hours have lessened, it is increasingly clear that a standard 9-5, five day a week work schedule is unattractive to many. This has given rise to alternative work arrangements. These arrangements are geared to make life better for both the worker and the business.

In the 80s, research showed that people defined success as money, career, and power; now nearly 80 % defined success as having a happy family life or relationship. Yet one-third of US workers find it difficult to balance work a personal life. (In the last 20 years, the number of working couples with children under 18 has risen nearly 60% to more than 14 million families). Importantly, diversity in the workforce means that people must co-ordinate the demands of work and home differently. In fact, in the Economic Policy Unit found that most American workers would accept less pay or slower career progress in trade for more personal time. Flexibility in work schedules is emerging as one of the hottest issues facing corporations that want to attract and retain skilled employees. 

Why alternative work schedules?

For Businesses

For Workers  

What has brought about alternative work arrangements?

    1.  Demographic changes

    2.  Socio-cultural     3.  Technological     4.  Economics     5.  Legal (US)     6.  Pull forces     7.  Push Forces In US,     firms offer:
78% childcare services
60% flexible scheduling
20% eldercare
9% on site daycare

Types of alternative work schedules:



Two Types:
1. On site daycare
2. Elder care provisions


Concerns about children and childcare are a constant backdrop to workers' business days Studies have shown that in 84% of families with 2 parents, both work; for single parent homes, the statistics are higher.  Moreover, 45% of children under the age of one year are in childcare while the numbers rise to 62% of all children 6 years old and younger.

Lack of quality child-care leads to employees': Positive results are employees':  
Family Leave throughout the world
Sweden 52/65 80/FIXED
Finland* 18/46 80
Denmark* 28 100
Iceland 26 Fixed
New Zealand 26 Fixed
Italy 22 8050
Greece 21 100/80
Norway* 6/18 90/fixed
United Kingdom 6/18 100
Austria* 16 84
France* 16 100
Luxumburg 16 100
Spain 16 75
Canada* 15 60
Germany* 14 100
Japan* 14 60
Belgium 14 75/79
Ireland 14 70
Portugal 13 100
Switzerland 10 Varies
Australia 0 0
United States 0 0

Forms of child care assistance

  Already millions of working adults are juggling the competing demands of caring for a chronically ill or disabled parent, raising a family and managing a career.   In the US, it is estimated that  at least 7 million Americans are caring for a carent at any one time and between 1/3 to 1/2 of these caregivers are employed outside the home.  This figure, however, is not reflective of the number of lost days and hours due to children taking time-off to care for their elderly parents (arranging for care, taking parents to doctors, taking care of sick parents, etc.).  Indeed, it is estimated that, eventually, 12 percent quit their jobs to provide care full-time.

Types of assistance for eldercare:

Private Sector approach has typically been to offer flexible personnel and leave policies.