What Are the Most Family-Friendly or Flexible Jobs in the US?
As Father’s Day approaches, an Indeed analysis uncovers the roles most likely to advertise family-friendly work arrangements.
Father’s Day is this Sunday, and in recognition of American families, we at Indeed mined hundreds of millions of job postings to pinpoint those that have keywords signifying family-friendly or flexible work benefits. For US parents, those jobs are hard to find: just 3.6% of job posts, or about 1 in 30 listings, contain language touting flexible or family-friendly policies.
When we look at specific jobs, which are the most family-friendly or flexible? Among those jobs with a minimum of 10,000 postings on Indeed, sales managers and sales engineers are at the top of the list, based on the prevalence of family-friendly keywords. Sales representatives are also in the top five. In addition, several high-skill, high-education jobs such as software engineer, lawyer, and accountant make the list. But there are also lower-skilled occupations such as home health aide and automotive service technician. (See our methodology section below for details.)
In trying to attract talented employees, many technology companies have pioneered offering generous benefits such as flexible working hours and paid family leave. So it’s no surprise that at least five technology occupations are found in the top 20: (#4) computer support specialists; (#7) computer software engineers, applications; (#10) network and computer systems administrators; (#15) software quality assurance engineers and testers; and (#17) computer software engineers, systems software.
More broadly, we examined the prevalence of flexible or family-friendly jobs by occupational groups–wide categories of jobs like legal or business operations. It turns out that job seekers are most likely to find family-friendly opportunities in arts, entertainment, and media occupations; followed by computer and mathematical; management; and business and financial operations occupations. For the most part, these job groupings are high-skill, high-education careers. By contrast, the least family-friendly or flexible job groupings were food preparation and serving; building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; and farming, fishing, and forestry.
Family-friendly and flexible jobs generally fall in two categories:
- Jobs with truly family-friendly or flexible benefits, which tend to be high-skill and high-paying careers.
- Jobs that advertise “flexible” schedules because that’s the nature of the job. These lower-skill and/or lower-paying jobs include many in sales, as well as home health aide and team assembler. Flexible in these cases may just mean, “You’ll work when we want you to.” This category may include many jobs in our top occupational category: arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media.
US is no standout in family-friendly or flexible jobs
When it comes to family-friendly or flexible jobs, the US is nothing special. As we’ve noted, few employers here explicitly advertise benefits that encourage work-life-balance such as flexible hours, remote work, or paid parental leave. Compared with European countries, the US is in the middle of the pack in how much employers emphasize family-friendly job opportunities. Compared with 11 European countries, the US came in 6th—smack in the middle.
Our research on flexible or family-friendly job advertising in the US builds off work done by Indeed economists in Germany and France who looked at job posting trends in the continent. That analysis just focused on policies such as working from home or allowing flexible hours. We conducted an additional analysis on US job postings to count those touting family-friendly policies such as paid family leave. In the 11 European countries, such policies are mandated by law.
In some cases, the discrepancy between the US and Europe is substantial. The prevalence of flexible or family friendly jobs on Indeed.com is about three times greater in Austria than in the US. But the US actually has more family-friendly job postings than France or Switzerland, although it’s worth repeating that in those countries policies such as paid family leave are universal and required by the government, and thus job seekers may not need to know whether or not an employer offers those benefits.
These findings confirm other reports that the US still has a way to go in making jobs friendly to parents. For example, a recent report found that fathers in dual-earner couples were even more likely than mothers to report work-family conflict.
As we honor dads on Father’s Day, the fact the US does not stand out for family-friendly or flexible jobs—especially compared with many European countries—is no cause for celebration. But for those fathers lucky enough to be in roles that allow them to juggle their schedules, all the better.
Indeed data on job postings were pulled in early May 2018 for 11 European countries and in late May for the US. To categorize jobs as family-friendly or flexible, descriptions had to include keywords such as work-life-balance, flexible working hours or working remotely. For the European countries, these keywords were searched not only in national languages, but also in English and, if necessary, in additional languages.
What employers promise in their job postings and how the daily work schedule looks might vary greatly. Nevertheless, we assume that mentioning work-life-balance or other keywords related to flexible working arrangements indicates how flexible and family-friendly working conditions are.
The flexible keywords we searched for were work-life balance, home office, homeoffice, flexible working hours, flexible working hour, flexible work schedule, flexible work schedules, flexible working arrangements, flexible working arrangement, work remotely, work from home, working remotely, working from home, remote work, telework, teleworking, telecommute and telecommuting. In addition, for the US only, we added the keywords family leave, parental leave, paternity leave, and maternity leave.
Andrew Flowers is an Economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab, focusing on the US labor market. Previously he was the quantitative editor and economics writer at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s data-driven news site; and before that, he was an economic analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. As a freelance journalist, he has written for The Economist. He has a B.A. in economics from the University of Chicago.