When a Talent Strategy Lacks Flex

With the dialogue about flexibility continuing to gain momentum, the U.S. workplace has begun its shift from 9-5 as the exclusive norm to more widely accepted, non-traditional ways of working.

According to our most recent Mom Corps survey of working adults across the country, when asked if they prefer to work a traditional 9-5 workday, nearly half (46 percent) disagreed, indicating they would instead prefer some level of flexibility. Further, nearly 40 percent said they have considered leaving or have left a job entirely because it wasn’t flexible enough.

However, as much as professionals have a desire for flexibility, there is still a disconnect between what is being offered and what employees value, need and feel empowered to take advantage of. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of working adults surveyed agreed their company would be willing to accommodate them if they requested a flexible work schedule. But nearly half (47 percent) feel that asking for flexible options would hurt their chances of advancing at their job.

Flexibility may be gaining traction, but organizations still are not doing enough to make professionals feel comfortable in leveraging the options.

This begs the question: What’s the point?

If flexibility isn’t ingrained in the culture of an organization, it is remiss to believe the benefits of it within a talent strategy will be worthwhile.

So what does this all mean for human resources leaders and recruiters?

If U.S. workers are willing to make job decisions based on flexibility but at the same time feel asking for flexible options might marginalize their career trajectory, the work styles we are accustomed to are outdated and terribly out of sync with reality. It’s time to be realistic about how we expect our top resource — human capital — to perform, especially if we can’t give a little in allowing them ways to work smarter.

The bottom line will remain: organizations that offer employees alternative work options more often than not benefit by seeing increased morale, productivity and loyalty. Further, these options go a long way in both attracting and retaining the very best talent because a solid culture is quickly apparent and very attractive to potential hires.

Flexible work options are being offered by a growing number of organizations — small and medium-size businesses to large corporations — and it is now a significant factor in gaining and keeping the talent needed to thrive.

Have you considered the alternative?