When asked in a recent survey whether or not they perceive resentment among co-workers about flexible hours for mothers, 59 percent of working men age 35-44 say flextime for mothers causes some resentment among coworkers. While 8 out of 10 responded that working moms were just as productive as other workers, 20 percent of women and 25 percent of men say “I am left picking up the slack for my co-workers who are moms,” according to a Workplace Insight survey conducted by Adecco USA.
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Companies use work-life programs successfully to compete in hiring and retaining workers, and rarely acknowledge any problems with the programs. The Adecco survey suggests that these companies need to take a closer look at negative attitudes and perceptions of flextime among co-workers.
“American workers realize the abilities working moms possess, but our survey findings show that employers have some work to do to manage the perceptions and attitudes many employees have toward the special arrangements provided to working moms,” Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer of Adecco Group North America, says. Adecco USA, a member of Adecco S.A., is the world’s largest employment agency.
The resentment of flextime among men came as a surprise because most are likely to be fathers with wives who are trying to balance careers and family, Kenny told USAToday.
Kenny suggests that some men may feel that their families sacrificed because their wives either left the work force or work part time, and they resent co-workers’ who can work from home if their children are sick.
At accounting services firm Jefferson Wells, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Manpower Inc., work-life programs have contributed to the fact that 35 percent of the firm’s high level managers are women, in contrast with the Big Four firms, where only 20 percent of managers are women, USAToday reports. Jefferson Wells spokeswomen Colleen Grams acknowledged that the programs “may be more attractive to women,” but she provided examples of men working flexible hours who are currently approaching retirement.
Jefferson Wells Manager Maryalice DeCamp, who supervises 70 employees at the firm’s Philadelphia office, says she knows of no undercurrents of resentment. Fathers on her staff leave early to coach their children’s teams.
Additional key findings from the Adecco survey revealed workers’ ambiguity toward flexible hours for mothers. While 88 percent admired the working mom’s ability “to do it all,” 36 percent of respondents said that moms’ flexibility negatively affected team dynamics and 31 percent thought that employee morale was adversely affected.
Adecco recommends that companies manage negative attitudes by creating opportunities for men to take advantage of flexible arrangements. Flextime policy should be written and published where all can see, and teams should hold weekly meetings to monitor productivity.
The Adecco survey was conducted among 1,909 adults working full and/or part-time, between April 26 and April 30, 2007.