The wide ranging effects of flexibility in the workplace have been revealed in a new report released by Catalyst today. Six in ten employees have direct exposure to part-time work arrangements, according to A New Approach to Flexibility: Managing the Work/Time Equation. This first examination of the effects of part-time work on the organization, managers, colleagues, and users also finds that 36 percent of women managers and 11 percent of men managers will have worked part-time at some point in their careers.
The Catalyst report focused on voluntary parttime professionals (85 percent in middle management or above) at four representative organizations: a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company, a Fortune 100 technology company, a leading law firm, and a leading consulting firm. Catalyst surveyed over 2,000 people and found that 82 percent of those working part-time were women, of whom 89 percent have children. Only one-third of all the women in the study indicated that they would never work part-time. Part-time is defined as a reduced work schedule structured on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis.
"Part-time arrangements have a considerable impact on today's workplace, with 11 percent of the women participants in our study and four percent of men currently working part-time," said Catalyst President Sheila Wellington. "Considering that women make up nearly 47 percent of the workforce and are increasingly valued as managers, it becomes a business issue for organizations to make flexible arrangements available and ensure their viability, especially given that our study demonstrates that the ripple effect of part-time affects a majority of the workforce."
Catalyst found that the success or failure of part-time work depends upon the skills of the individual, the manager, and colleagues, as well as the organization's structures and systems. Marcia Brumpt Kropf, Catalyst vice president, points out that "People are not aware of the part-time arrangements at their organizations. Even though more than 60 percent of organizations have such policies, people don't widely use them because there's a general sense that they don't work." Among the main barriers to success uncovered by the study are organizational practices like measuring performance by face-time, and the resistance of middle managers, who may bear extra burdens because of unclear policies and practices.
The productivity of part-time employees does not falter, according to the study. Over half of part-time people reported gains in their productivity, and supervisors and colleagues agreed, as did clients interviewed by Catalyst. More than half of those who went part-time indicated that their workloads did not decrease, and ten percent said they had more work. Nearly a third of those using part-time expected to be promoted.
Catalyst is the national nonprofit research and advisory organization with a dual mission: to enable women in business and the professions to achieve their maximum potential and to help employers capitalize on the talents of their female employees. Catalyst is supported by leading corporations, professional firms, and private foundations. A New Approach to Flexibility: Managing the Work/Time Equation was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.