Guilt-Free Flexibility: Do Top Employers Understand What Spouses Really Want?

Top Spouse Employer 2024

"We need guilt-free flexibility," my colleague, Rachelle Chapman, told me this week when I was quizzing her about what military spouses really need from top employers. "It's not just military spouses. All women. All parents." Chapman is a veteran military spouse and director for the Adecco Group US Foundation, a longtime leader in spouse employment.

Is your company in the running for our 2024 list of Top Military Spouse Employers? Find out the special characteristics we are looking for this year. Take our survey today or forward it to your HR department.

What Military Spouses Really, Really Want from Employers

Guilt-free flexibility. As an employed, active-duty Navy spouse, I love that term. It conjures up a thousand times I've had to work into the night or on a weekend, because my husband was standing watch, had the duty, was out to sea, was forward deployed or was a geographic bachelor in a different city.

Like most employed military spouses, I did not need months off work. I did not need pay for work I did not do. I did not need someone else to carry the load for me.

I needed an extra hour or two of flexibility so I could deal with the situations caused by my husband's absence due to military service -- and then come back and finish my work. Our kids thought this was normal. They did not know it was this flexibility that allowed me to create "normal" for all of us.

Luckily, I work for a top military spouse employer that just so happens to offer guilt-free flexibility as one of our benefits. (We didn't call it that before today, but I'm pretty sure we do now.)

Military spouses are not alone in this need for flexible work. Researchers have found that in general, more-flexible schedules work better for everyone.

This kind of policy not only helps parents achieve better balance between work and family, but it allows non-parents to be more productive as well. Researchers Joan C. Williams and Marina Multhaup suggest that having a policy where work-from-home days are "reason neutral" is the fairest distribution of that benefit to everyone.

Granted, not every employer can offer this kind of flexibility to military spouses or other employees. According to Pew Research, more than 60% of working Americans do not have jobs that lend themselves to hybrid work. But there is a strong movement toward a more flexible workplace for spouses when 41% of those with jobs that can be done remotely are working from home some or most of the time.

This trend surely could help change the stubborn 21% unemployment rate military spouses experience mostly due to frequent moves and the consequential lack of child care?

The biggest influencers in this situation are the employers themselves. More than 700 spouse friendly employers are registered with the Department of Defense's Military Spouse Employment Partnership. Hiring Our Heroes and Blue Star Families announced the 4 + 1 initiative in December, looking for an additional 1,000 companies to commit to retaining military spouses.

At, we want to shine a spotlight on these top military spouse employers. If you think your company is truly a leader, we want to hear about it. Take our survey today and help a military spouse find their next high-impact job tomorrow.

Jacey Eckhart is's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website, Reach her at

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Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our FREE master class series, including our next class. You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.

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