Flexibility = Happy Employees

Flexible work environments

There’s no question that flexibility is something employees want from their employers. You’ve probably noticed that your job candidates are constantly asking about flexibility and it comes up in almost every interview.

Many candidates have already made some type of flexible working arrangement with their current employer and they want to secure a similar arrangement with their next one. Some don’t currently have a flexible arrangement but are seeking a healthier work/life balance in their upcoming career move.

In fact, flexibility has become even more valuable than money in our time-pressed culture. In a recent survey of working parents, the availability of flexible schedules (76%) and a better work/life balance (81%) were both ranked as being more important than salary (72%) in choosing to accept a new job.

Currently, the 5 most in-demand flexibility options are:

  • 100% telecommuting
  • Flexible schedules
  • Partial telecommuting
  • Working part-time
  • Working an alternative schedule

A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 57% of U.S. organizations now offer flexible schedules, up from 52% in 2015. As Forbes concluded after a recent study on remote work trends, “Remote work is no longer a privilege. It has become the standard operating model for at least 50% of the U.S population.”

How is the Workforce Changing?

The demand for flexibility comes on the heels of new demographic trends. A majority of U.S. families - about 46% - now have dual incomes from two working adults/parents. For these busy families, a flexible work environment is extremely important.

And although previous generations might have been willing to put their families’ needs behind the needs of their workplace, this is no longer the case. Generation Z, the under-25 generation which comprises 36% of the global workforce, grew up in an internet-centric society that solves problems through communication. These young workers don’t see why they can’t telecommute and stay 100% productive for their employer, regardless of their location, timing, or personal circumstances.

It’s worth pointing out that the very definition of flexibility is also in flux. Flexibility can be defined in any or all of the following ways:

  • Flex schedules, hours
  • Remote work
  • Cultural flexibility
  • Flexibility in choosing benefits
  • Day-to-day flexibility from boss/department

How Do You Define Flexibility?

Each company has its own definition of flexibility. To some extent it can be handled on a case-by-case basis, however, you must take care to treat employees fairly and equitably.

Often, it helps to focus more on what work gets done rather than how work gets done. As long as employees are getting X amount of work done within a certain timeframe, you can stop worrying about exactly when and where they’re doing it.

In other cases, it’s simply a matter of breaking away from the traditional 9 to 5 work model and freeing up your employees to work more flexible schedules. An alternative workday can be a very appealing option for a talented working parent who needs afternoons off for their children’s sports/activities, for example.

When the job market is tight, anything your company can do to stay competitive matters to its survival. Incorporating some flexibility can help you attract employees, retain them, and keep them content with their jobs at little to no extra cost.

Does Flexibility Improve Productivity?

In the previous decade, there was a persistent debate in HR circles about whether schedule flexibility could really improve productivity within organizations. Today, the answer is clear: Yes. Flexibility usually improves productivity within organizations and eliminates frustrating activities like sitting in traffic, which accounts for 60 wasted hours for the typical city commuter.

When employees perceive their employer as flexible, it provides a company-wide boost in morale and camaraderie. People feel that their employer cares about their individual needs.

Flexibility can also prevent ruts and unproductive routines that put a damper on productivity. That’s because it promotes creativity and problem-solving, encouraging employees to work when they feel their best and most productive.

There’s also persuasive research that shows flexibility can cut costs and present a better financial picture for both the employee and the employer. The employee tends to spend less on child care, clothing, meals, and commuting expenses. The employer spends somewhat less on healthcare costs and employee workstations and sees a boost in productivity/revenue.

But wait, there’s more! Because employees enjoy their flexibility so much, they’re less likely to feel stressed, leave your company, and create the costs of turnover. And as an employer, you may be able to trim hours across the company by offering part-time and alternative schedules that reduce your overall payroll cost.

Flexibility Makes People Happy

Here’s the bottom line about flexibility: It promotes job satisfaction. Employees feel happier and more respected by their employer, and the employer reaps the benefits of more satisfied and productive workers.

It’s one of those rare win/win scenarios in the working world that every employer would love to find. So if your company hasn’t considered implementing a flexible work environment, now’s the time.

Connect with The O’Connor Group to learn more about flexibility in the workplace and how to make it happen smoothly and successfully for your company.