There's a misconception that workplace flexibility is just an "accommodation for women." Women do indeed have a high demand for adaptive workdays—especially because they're still expected to shoulder more than their fair share of caregiving responsibilities, housework, and other invisible labor. But men need flexibility, too, and new research from the Boston Consulting Group shows that men are actually more likely to leave jobs in inflexible work environments.
"Companies that use flexible work solely as a means of boosting gender diversity are missing the full picture," BCG warns. "Our research shows that women at companies with no flexible work option are 20 percent more likely to seek a new job at another company in the next three years—and men in the same situation are 30 percent more likely to move on."
In reporting this new research, HRDive cites two other findings that show the danger of inflexibility for men and women: the FlexJobs study in which one third of respondents said they had left a job because they couldn't access flexible work options, and the Center for Work-Life Policy survey in which 69 percent of women with advanced degrees or high-honors undergraduate degrees who left their jobs said they would have stayed if they could access more flexibility.
These findings all corroborate Werk's research—which, in part, measured the impact of inflexibility on employee retention. In our study we found that employees without access to flexibility were twice as likely to report being dissatisfied at work, and 1 in 2 employees would leave their job to find a more flexible alternative. And though our research showed that men enjoyed more access to flexibility than women—51 percent vs. 34 percent—the demand for flex was nearly identical between these two genders—97 percent vs. 95 percent.
Our data also showed that men—millennial men especially—had the highest demand for PartTime work. In our research paper, we speculated that this result indicated shifting family structures, e.g. the trend of men contributing more to caregiving and housekeeping responsibilities. A 2017 Pew Research Center report revealed that fathers spent an average of seven hours per week on childcare, close to triple the time fathers spent on childcare 50 years prior.
Antenna founder Brendon Schrader, writing on behalf of the Young Entrepreneur Council, summed up the issue in a 2016 Forbes essay. "As workplace demographics change and men seek to create the flexibility to balance work with their family or passion projects, it will be a wake-up call for corporations to change their culture to support this mindset of flexibility for women and men," he wrote. "Companies that begin treating flexibility as an issue that affects their workers across the board are the ones that will win in talent recruitment and retention."