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HEALTH | Workplace flexibility bias not just an issue to moms: study

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — Work-life balance is not an issue limited to women, particularly mothers, even men and those without children can suffer when they feel their workplace culture is not family friendly, a new U.S. study found.

When employees think their careers will suffer if they take time away from work for family or personal reasons, they have lower work satisfaction and experience more work-life spillover, the study revealed.

Moreover, they are more likely to intend to leave their jobs, found researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) and California State University Channel Islands.

The researchers tested workplace flexibility bias using a nationally representative sample of more than 2,700 employed people, with half were men. They answered questions about job satisfaction, engagement, job-to-home spillover, home-to-job spillover and turnover intentions.

Respondents reported their beliefs about their workplace environment, specifically whether they felt they could ask for time off for personal or family reasons and still get ahead in their jobs or careers.

Nearly 40 percent felt that workers at their jobs are unlikely to get ahead at work when they ask for time off. Many respondents were caregivers or used a flexible work schedule.

The negative impacts of this kind of workplace culture have the potential to affect all workers, said study co-author Erin Cech, UM assistant professor of sociology.

This flexibility bias, the researchers say, leaves workers with little control over their schedule, feeling unsupported by their companies or unhappy knowing that their company might be discriminating against those balancing work with personal responsibilities.

The finding has been published in the April issue of Sociological Perspectives.

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