What's the best job for you and your family? A flexible one.
In fact, 81 percent of working adults said flexibility is one of the most important factors they consider when they're looking for a job, according to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the national staffing firm Mom Corps.
"In the past, they would have just thought it's salary, it's location, it's the boss, it's if you like the people, and it's if you like the company," says Allison O'Kelly, founder and CEO of Mom Corps. "This is the norm now, and it's OK to ask for these things. You're not the only one asking."
Why is flexibility so important to working adults, especially parents? "The family tends to be the biggest reason," says O'Kelly. "They want to take their kid to college, or they want to attend somebody's sporting event, or they want to attend school events, or they need to be able to take care of somebody at certain times."
A remarkable 45 percent of working adults said they are willing to give up some percentage of their salary for more flexibility at work, according to the Harris-Mom Corps survey. And on average, they said they would forfeit 8.6 percent of their pay - nearly double the amount they said last year.
Your kids may think a less rigid work schedule is even a bigger deal than you do. In the survey, 53 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds and 65 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds said flexibility is key.
The younger generation is even more willing to take a pay cut for it, too. "[They] have a different attitude toward work," says O'Kelly. "They value their personal life more."
Some people want more flexible jobs to decrease their anxiety levels. "They don't want the stress of saying I need to go to the dentist, and I need to ask permission," says O'Kelly.
Interestingly, 60 percent of working adults in the Harris-Mom Corps survey agreed that the state of the economy did not affect their desire for more flexibility at work.
And government numbers confirm those findings. Most Americans who work part time do it because they want to, not because it's the only kind of work they could find. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19 million Americans work part-time for "non-economic reasons" and only 8 million do so for "economic reasons."
If they can't find a flexible employer, working adults (especially moms and dads) said they would be interested in starting their own business. In fact, 62 percent of working parents said so.
But not everyone needs to become an entrepreneur - or choose to work part time instead of full time. "There are a lot of opportunities out there that still allow you to receive a better work-life balance," says O'Kelly, a mom with a Harvard MBA. "It could be one company that allows you to work in the office for five hours and work from home five hours."
Scaling back time on the job isn't always necessary. "It's not that they want to work less," says O'Kelly. "They just want to have more flexibility in when and how they work their hours." Someone may want to work 60 hours a week during the school year - and get the summers off.
Another report - the Job Happiness Survey by Parade Magazine and Yahoo! Finance - asked U.S. workers what they would do differently if they could rewind their careers. Most (59 percent) said they would choose a different career. And most (53 percent) said they had either no savings or just one to three months' worth of savings. (Perhaps that's why only 15 percent said they think they'll retire at 65.)
Sadly, 51 percent of the Parade-Yahoo responders said workers get ahead because of internal politics and only 27 percent said they do through hard work and initiative.
The bottom line: The best job is a flexible one that rewards hard work and that you can do well into your silver-haired years.
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