Think about your life in January of 2020. How much different is this January for you? Most likely, there have been some big changes, and work is one that may have shifted the most. Now more than ever, flexibility in the workplace is at the forefront. In a study conducted by researchers from the Utah Women and Leadership Project (UWLP), “...more than 94% of companies reported higher employee satisfaction as a result of offering flexibility and/or family-friendly arrangements to employees. It also showed that 92% of the best places of employment offer remote work or flexibility with work location, and 75% offered paid maternity leave. In larger companies of 500-999 employees, 100% offered paid maternity leave, and 91% offered paid paternity leave.”

The road there though, has been paved with difficulties and quick adaptation. We all felt crunched in different ways during the early days of Covid. With kids unable to go to school, parents working from home had to share time monitoring kids and getting work done. Women were hit differently, juggling careers, child care, and everything in between, and in many cases, the career came last. The UWLP is an organization whose mission is to strengthen the impact of Utah girls and women, and the research they conducted in fall of 2020 helped bring to light some of the ways we are helping, and failing, our female workforce.

Working in conjunction with Utah State University and Utah Valley University, the UWLP study included information gathered from 100 of the best companies to work for in Utah as reported in local and national rankings. The research showed that while Utah companies are moving towards more flexibility and family-friendly arrangements, we’re still behind in things like child care support, with fewer than one fifth of companies offering compensation or services for child care during working hours.

Susan Madsen, founding director of the UWLP and inaugural Karen Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership in USU's Huntsman School of Business, noted that although Utah is doing well in a lot of areas, there are some big ones we’re missing. “Going remote has been great for a lot of people and businesses, but some businesses experienced problems. Think about it, if parents are working from home and simultaneously trying to homeschool their kids, that’s not going to work,” says Susan. “It’s important for us to conduct research like this to point out areas we need to focus on- like child care and flexibility within the workplace.”

Although there were challenges, including decrease in company culture and engagement, the study found some increases in those very areas. “...it is interesting to note that the percentage of companies experiencing decreased engagement is five times lower than companies reporting increased engagement, and the percentage of companies that reported decreased productivity is four times lower than those reporting increased productivity,” says the report.

We learn, we grow, we adapt. That’s the song of 2020 spilling over into 2021. To read the full report and learn more, click here.

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