Content prepared by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College

Availability of Flexibility Within Private Industry Sectors

Flexible work arrangements are currently available to varying extents in the U.S. workplace. A recent series of reports from the Sloan Center on Aging & Work's Talent Management Study show that the extent to which flexible options are available varies according to industry sector, employer size, and other factors, such as the degree to which employers feel pressure to recruit and retain workers.

In all industry sectors combined, "only one-third of employers (31%) felt they had established options for employees to work in a flexible manner to a moderate/great extent." (71) Retail organizations offer flexible work options at a comparable rate with employers operating in all other sectors, with approximately 31% of employers having established flexible work options to a moderate or great extent (85), while in the manufacturing sector, only one in five (18%) organizations have established options that allow employees to work in a flexible manner to a moderate or great extent. (82)

In addition to variations in the availability of options to work in a flexible manner, there is variability in the extent to which employers in various industry sectors encourage employees to use such options. For example, most employers in the health care and social services sector "support discussions of flexibility with supervisors (74.6%) and make efforts to inform employees of flexible work options (66.9%). Nearly half (46.6%) embrace the idea that flexibility is key to business success and 45.8% view flexibility as an important means to enhance employees lives at work and at home." (84) "In general, finance and insurance organizations are about as likely as employers in other sectors to embrace a culture that is supportive of workplace flexibility." (83)

Presence of a Culture of Flexibility is Generally True or Very True in the Construction Sector, compared to Other Sectors: 2009 Talent Management Study

Note: Analyses from 2009 Talent Management Study; +p< .1 *p<.05 **p<.01 ; N=646