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New Study Shows That Parents Rank Work Flexibility Ahead of Salary

Topics: Work Culture

Back in the ’70s, nearly half of American households had a breadwinning, working dad and a stay-at-home mom. Today, those numbers look quite different. Only 26 percent of two-parent households fit the traditional mold in today’s day and age. It’s no wonder, then, that working parents value flexibility in their careers over money.

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Image Credit: stephanski/Flickr

FlexJobs conducted a survey of nearly 1,200 working parents with school-aged children (18 years and younger) living at home and found that the two most valuable factors when considering a job are flexibility (84 percent of participants) and work-life balance (80 percent). Although salary (75 percent) wasn’t in the top two on the list, it did beat out health insurance (42 percent), company reputation (39 percent), and 401(k)/retirement benefits (29 percent).

What type of workplace arrangements do parents want most? The study found that 89 percent of parents prefer a job that is 100 percent telecommuting — which makes sense when you have school-aged children to care for. Next on the list are flexible schedules (74 percent), part-time schedules (51 percent), partial telecommuting (49 percent), alternative schedules (49 percent), and freelance options (42 percent). The main reasons working parents desire flexible work options are because of work-life balance (84 percent) and family (83 percent), followed by time savings (45 percent) and commuting stress (43 percent).

Unfortunately, many households need both parents to work, so having one parent stay home and care for the kids is simply not feasible financially. But that’s not to say that parents don’t want to work. Actually, two out of three parents say they want to work and 91 percent are certain they can simultaneously be both great employees and great parents — however, a heartbreaking 8 percent of parents are merely hopeful they can do both.

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What’s more, a Pew Research Center survey found that 56 percent of working parents admit that juggling work and life is a difficult act — with working mothers taking the hardest hit. Forty-one percent of working mothers say juggling career and family has made it more difficult for them to advance in their careers, compared to just 20 percent of working fathers who feel the same. This may have something to do with moms still taking on most, if not all, of the responsibilities that involve the home and the kids, in addition to working full-time.

As it turns out, having a flexible schedule isn’t just about having your cake and eating it too in your personal and professional life — it also affects overall well-being, suggests the participants. Ninety-eight percent of the study’s participants said that having a flexible work arrangement would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life by lowering stress (87 percent), improving health (78 percent), and saving money (88 percent).

It’s not easy being a working parent, but that’s not to say it’s impossible. Flexible schedules are definitely a means to an end when it comes to helping working parents better balance their lives, but there also needs to be a compromise in the household so that both parents are contributing equally. Check out this article for tips on how working moms and dads can manage their households like a CEO. 

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How do you balance your career and family as a working parent? Share your secrets with our community on Twitter, or leave a comment below. Your wisdom is greatly appreciated.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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