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Flexibility Adoption Result of Management Age Not Workforce Makeup

09 November 2009—Workforce demographics matter less than the age of leadership. In a new analysis published in the Journal of Social Service Research, center researchers show how the age of management predicts in the adoption of flexible work options in nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

Predictions have been made that by 2012 there will be a 48% increase in the percentage of workers aged 55-64 and a 40% increase in those aged 65+ in the workplace. To date, the major concern to be raised is that this 21st century demographic shift will cause a "structural lag" in workforce policies and the structure of the work day. The adoption of flexible work options for competitive advantage—such as flexible work schedules, part-time work, and telecommuting—has been one means of confronting this challenge.

However, it turns out that the composition of the workforce is not the single driving factor for the adoption of flexibility. In a new article—"Workplace Flexibility as an Organizational Response to the Aging of the Workforce"—center researchers Tina Matz-Costa and Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes found that for-profit organizations who had top management or administrators aged 65+ were more likely to have adopted a greater scope of flexible work options. Meanwhile, organizations with higher proportions of their workforce older than age 55 were not more likely to adopt flexible work options.

More surprisingly, nonprofits who reported that their business ethics/corporate social responsibility was a highly important strategy for their organization were less likely to have adopted a greater scope of flexible work options that whose who did not feel that this strategy was highly important.

Overall, findings suggest that despite additional vulnerabilities nonprofit organizations may be facing—resource constraints, increased demand for services, funding reductions—they are still investing resources in their workforces. Offering a scope of flexible work optionsalso supports the assertion that nonprofits have a greater stake in the treatment of their workers because of the character of their missions.

Among for-profits, top predictors of the adoption of flexible work options included organizations who:

  • Had top managers and administrators aged 65+;
  • Felt that management of workforce talent was a highly important strategy for their organization; and
  • Had a greater percentage of professional, technical, and managerial staff.

Among nonprofits, top predictors of the adoption of flexible work options included organizations who:

  • Had top managers and administrators aged 65+;
  • Being committed to employee participation and decision-making; and
  • Made a link between organizational effectiveness and workplace flexibility.

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