Research by US recruiter Mom Corps found 73% of working adults said flexibility was something they looked for in a job, also up from 61% in 2012 and 62% in 2011.
A majority (68%) of respondents also said their workplaces would help them if they asked for flexible working arrangements and 45% would be prepared to sacrifice some salary for flexibility.
Employees overwhelmingly agreed that flexible working is as important for childless workers as those with families, with 80% saying this is the case.
Despite this optimistic picture, employees said they still feel limited when it comes to flexible working – 47% believe asking for flexible working would hurt their chances of promotion
“While the workforce as a whole is seeing an increase in available flexible work options, there is still a considerable disconnect between what is being offered and what employees feel empowered to take advantage of,” said Mom Corps chief executive Allison O’Kelly.
“Worse, employees still feel susceptible to diminished career opportunities if they ask for alternatives. However, employees are aware that there are flexible options available, as nearly four in ten working professionals surveyed have left or have considered leaving a job for greater levels of flexibility.”
The report said a shift is taking place in the US workforce, with 46% of adults saying they would prefer some flexibility over a traditional 9 to 5 role, up slightly from 44% in 2012. Many also said they would be more productive if they could work from home occasionally (58% – up from 53% in 2012).
“This is evidence that employees don’t feel the need to clock in at nine and out at five to do their jobs,” said O’Kelly.
The proportion of younger workers with flexibility in their jobs is higher, with 18-34 year olds also most likely to say they would consider alternative work options such as temping, contracting, part-time or consulting to achieve a better work-life balance.
They would also vote with their feet if their job didn’t have flexibility – 53% of 18-34 year old men and 46% of women the same age said they have left or considered leaving a job over lack of flexibility. That’s compared with 14% of adults over the age of 55.
“We are at an interesting middle point right now,” said O’Kelly. “Many US workers are willing to give up salary and make job decisions based on flexibility, while at the same time feel it might negatively affect their career path. We see more employees asking for the work situation they need and more companies offering flexibility as a proven talent management strategy. Flexible work trends are gaining attention and momentum, but we aren’t there yet.”