Workplace flexibility is vital in today’s employment market. High-level talent craves work-life satisfaction and thrives in environments where they can control where and when they work. As a result, companies that build a culture of flexibility:
- Attract better talent.According to a recent Entrepreneur.com post, “Today’s skilled workers first choose where to live, then find a job second. Expanding your search beyond your region by offering telecommuting makes your company attractive to the best talent with the right skill set.”
- Experience less turnover.WorldatWork’s 2013 Survey on Workplace Flexibility indicates that organizations rating themselves high on workplace flexibility have lower voluntary turnover rates. Further, research cited in an Inc.com post lists a lack of work-life balance as the second biggest reason employees quit their jobs.
- Enjoy greater productivity, creativity and innovation.Time spent in the office doesn’t necessarily correlate with quantity and quality of work. In fact, the opposite may be true. Employees who work outside the office, or who work flexible schedules that fit their needs, aren’t subject to the same mental stagnation that plagues employees in more rigid environments. Greater workplace flexibility permits talented people to work when and where they’re most productive, creative and efficient — and to deliver the best results.
But if building work flex into your culture is such a no-brainer, why doesn’t every employer do it? Because it isn’t always easy. Here are three of the biggest obstacles employers face when building a culture of flexibility:
- Lack of buy-in.Mid-to-senior-level managers may resist flexible work arrangements, citing concerns about policy abuse, client/customer reactions, and difficulty managing both programs and participants.
- Operational issues.Certain jobs are more conducive to flexible work than others, affecting the practicality of employers’ offerings. WorldatWork’s survey shows that more than half of companies that don’t offer flex programs say it’s primarily because they don’t have jobs that are conducive to flextime (55 percent) and/or part-time schedules (58 percent).
- Legal and compliance concerns.While well intentioned, labor laws and regulations such as the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act deter employers from pursuing more flexible work policies.
Don’t let these barriers undermine your recruiting. Although some of the concerns listed above may be justified, they’re greatly outweighed by the recruiting and other business benefits workplace flexibility offers.
Turn a critical eye on your company’s culture. If it’s not a true talent magnet for the right types of professionals, use these tips to start building more flexibility into the fabric of your organization:
Obtain buy-in at all levels. Overcome objections from employees and managers by making sure everyone understands:
- All of the benefits they stand to gain — including greater work-life satisfaction, enhanced recruiting and a more productive, innovative business.
- Operational and managerial changes required — clearly outlining programs and their requirements may reduce resistance to change because of “fear of the unknown.”
Keep your options open.When it comes to workplace flexibility, one size definitely does not fit all. Beyond traditional flextime and telecommuting options, consider other strategies that may be viable for your organization, such as: compressed work weeks, daily flextime, job sharing and a results-only work environment.
The best options will vary based on your industry, services/products and customers. Ultimately, you must find the right mix that balances the needs of your business with your employees’ need for flexibility and work-life satisfaction.
Start small.Culture change takes consistent, sustained effort. Rather than attempting a major overhaul, focus on implementing one or two flexibility initiatives that will have the greatest affect on recruiting and performance.
Integrate flexibility offerings into your recruiting efforts.Once you’ve begun building your culture, actively market your flex work options everywhere you connect with talent: your website, job postings, social media accounts and more. Make it clear that your organization welcomes and supports high performers seeking greater flexibility and work-life satisfaction.