Employers agree on need to balance family and work interests

Within the framework of the EU EQUAL initiative, the project ‘FORWARD! Family and work reconciliation development’ included a sociological survey to identify employers’ attitudes towards ways of reconciling employees’ family and work interests. While the survey findings reveal a generally positive attitude towards family-friendly policy measures, the study also found negative, paternal attitudes, based on the more traditional roles of men and women.

About the survey

Within the framework of the European Commission’s EQUAL initiative, the project FORWARD! Family and work reconciliation development implemented in Lithuania allowed for a sociological survey to be carried out among employers. The survey aimed to identify employers’ attitudes towards ways of reconciling employees’ family and work interests. The group of respondents was selected by choosing a systematic sample of companies listed on a web portal. In total, the survey covered 137 employers and was carried out from May to August 2007.

Overall, 60% of the participating employers represented private enterprises and agencies, while the remaining 40% consisted of public sector representatives. From a gender perspective, 55% of the respondents were women and 45% were men. More than 80% of the respondents reported having children, with men’s and women’s responses almost equally distributed in this regard.

Main survey findings

The majority of the responding employers (95%) were of the opinion that family-friendly work environment measures are necessary. All of the female respondents reflected this view, compared with 90% of men. According to the survey, 71% of the respondents believed that applying family-friendly policy measures at the workplace was important both for men and women. On the other hand, 27% of employers considered that such measures were necessary for women only. This attitude was often reflected in open questions contained in employers’ responses, and could perpetuate the differences between the roles of men and women, thereby contributing to the disparity in gender equality in Lithuania. It is apparent from the survey that employers regularly put economic interests above values such as the family and its welfare.

Most common measures applied

The survey sought to identify whether employers offered family-friendly policy measures to their employees, such as flexible working time, a shorter working week and flexibility options. In this regard, 58% of the respondents stated that they implemented family-friendly policy measures for their employees, while 42% conceded that they did not. A positive response to this question was received from 60% of private business representatives and 54% of public sector representatives.

Employers applying family-friendly policy measures in the workplace were asked to indicate what measures in particular they usually applied. The survey showed that the organisation of flexible working time was most often applied by employers, with 81% of the participating employers giving this response (Figure 1). In addition, more than one third of the respondents indicated flexibility with regard to the place of work as one of the measures offered in their enterprise. Other employment forms were introduced less frequently by employers.

Distribution of employers by family-friendly policy measures applied in their enterprise (%)

Distribution of employers by family-friendly policy measures applied in their enterprises (%)

Note: Respondents could choose more than one option in their responses.

Source: FORWARD! Family and work reconciliation development, employers’ survey, 2007

Distribution of employers by family-friendly policy measures applied in their enterprises (%)

Three quarters of the employers agreed that the application of family-friendly policy measures was useful, because these measures contributed to reducing employee turnover, improving the emotional environment at work, creating a better image of the enterprise among the public and helping to retain skilled experts.

Barriers to applying family-friendly strategy

On the other hand, employers revealed that they found the application of family-friendly policy measures in Lithuania quite a complicated procedure. As few as 13% of the respondents indicated that they faced no obstacles in applying such measures (Figure 2).

Main obstacles indicated by employers in applying family-friendly policy measures (%)

Main obstacles indicated by employers in applying family-friendly policy measures (%)

Source: FORWARD! Family and work reconciliation development, employers’ survey, 2007

Main obstacles indicated by employers in applying family-friendly policy measures (%)

According to the employers, the main obstacle in applying family-friendly measures is the likelihood of abuse of these measures by employees, as reported by almost one third (32%) of respondents. In addition, many employers noted that the introduction of family-friendly policy measures was a complicated procedure in their enterprise.

Rasa Zabarauskaite, Institute of Labour and Social Research

 

 

 

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