Families and Work Institute by Dawn Morgan

11/01/06

FWI 11.01.06 RT: 5.13

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The Families and Work Institute, or FWI, is a nonprofit center for research that provides data to inform decision-making on the ever-changing workforce, family and community. They revealed three new reports today that shed light on who low paid and entry-level employees are, what their work places are like, and what makes them most effective. WMNF’s Dawn Morgan has more.

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(cut, Helen Neuborne of the Ford Foundation: “There has been a turn by employers towards a more effective workplace. And the reason is because the workforce is changing. It’s aging, it more likely to be women and more ethnically diverse. Work hours have increased. Technology has blurred the lines on when we’re working and when we’re not. And employers know a number of employees aren’t fully engaged or satisfied by their jobs and are looking to make a change.�)

That was Helen Neuborne, Senior Program Officer of Economic Development at the Ford Foundation, who spoke on the Families and Work Institutes conference call earlier today.

The FWI defines low paid workers as those who made less than $9.30 an hour in 2005, or 2 parent, 2 children families who made $39,000 or less last year.

The reports busted stereotypes, reporting that though most of these workers are young, they are not teenagers. 54% are between 19-29 years of age. 14% are single parents with 42% Married or in long-term relationships. The majority are white. 1 in 5 is an immigrant. They are less educated with only 3% holding a 4 year degree or higher.

The work places are predominantly in retail, followed by health care. 38% of the employees work less than full time though they would like to work more hours.

They have high job dissatisfaction, minimal time off for sickness, lack healthcare and retirement. Their supervisors offer less support for their personal concerns, and the workers are less willing to go the extra mile to have their employer succeed.

Again, Helen Neuborne.

(cut, Helen Neuborne of the Ford Foundation: “Bottom line of what I want to say is when employees are in the kind of work places that their more advantaged counterparts are in, it actually makes a bigger difference for them than it does for the top talent in a company. Employers get a bigger bang for their buck, but it’s not necessarily a buck since its about how people treat each other in the work place.�)

The FWI spotlighted Citigroup, with more 60,000 entry-level employees in the U.S alone, as among the leading companies changing the culture of business in order to engage their employees. In 2005, Citigroup began their Global Flexible Work Program that any employee can to apply for. In the year since the launch of the program, 40% of all applications have come from low wage workers seeking atypical working hours, job sharing or working remotely. FWI Cofounder and President Ellen Galinsky:

(cut, Ellen Galinsky of FWI: “They’ve changed the culture so that when people want flexibility, it’s not an automatic no. It’s now an automatic Let’s See of we can find a way to make it work for the employee and the business. And so much about flexibility is the way people treat each other that is it a significant change in culture amongst most employers around the country. When they move to think of Flexibility not as a perk but a deal that is made between a mgr and an employee that can increase engagement and retention.�)

In a year since Citigroup’s Global Flexible Work program has begun in 42 countries, 5000 applications have been made and 1100 have been approved. Citigroup Chief Diversity Officer Ana Duarte McCarthy:

(cut, citigroup: “The inability to have flexibility at work to meet both pro and personal demands, was something that our employees thought we could do a much better job at helping them to try to satisfy.� And flexibility: “To some extent, I think this is very responsive and challenges myths. Not being amenable to flexibility.�)

FWI’s Galinsky believes that hotel staff, caregivers for the elderly and other low wage jobs make up the backbone of the economy. But she doesn’t believe their betterment falls solely on the companies who they work for.

(“Individuals obviously have a huge responsibility to continue to better themselves and I think that the picture we’ve painted from our data is that the people in the low wage work force, people who check who into hotels, take care of your children and parents as they age, answer the phones on call ctrs, so many jobs in the backbone of the economy, they want to support their families and do the best they can. But we also are saying that the society and workplace must create more effective workplaces to support them to achieve their dreams.�)

For WMNF News, this is Dawn Morgan.

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