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In recent years, there’s been an ongoing shift toward flexible work options at companies large and small.
So, what does that mean exactly? In modern workplaces, it’s a broad spectrum of options that allow employees more freedom and creativity to figure out how, when, and where they work best — well beyond the traditional 9-to-5 office mentality.
That could mean flexible hours, remote work, unlimited vacation time, or even scrapping a traditional workplace in favor of a target-based system where your team works however they want, as long as they hit their deadlines and get the job done well.
However companies make it work, one thing is clear: Flexible work options can be a great way to attract and retain skilled workers while keeping them happy in the process.
Here are some reasons why companies should now be offering flexible work options.
It Helps Recruit Top Talent
As flexible work becomes more common, there’s a growing expectation for it — among both young professionals and top-tier hires who’ve grown frustrated by antiquated and restrictive workplace demands.
One 2019 study by flex workplace provider IWG, for instance, found a whopping 85 percent of Canadian professionals would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working.
“Having a company that’s nimble enough to change with the times has never been more important,” according to Wayne Berger, CEO, IWG Canada, and Latin America. “For companies serious about winning the war for talent, offering flexible arrangements is now the norm.”
When companies offer more flex options, “it’s definitely a lot easier to get talent that has a few more years of experience,” echoes ZJ Hadley, the Senior People Consultant for Bright + Early, a human resources consultancy.
A start-up company trying to attract a senior-level staffer, for instance, would be well-served offering perks like flexible office hours to make a role — and perhaps a lower paycheck — more appealing to someone with a family and desire for work-life balance.
Flex Work Strengthens Worker Loyalty
Once you’ve got solid staff members in the door, flexible work options can also help retain them — because who wants to leave those kinds of perks?
In 2014, an American survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found companies that launched flexible work plans reported an 89 percent retention increase.
“It can help you build loyalty with your employees … if you treat them with respect, invest in them and trust them, they’ll bring the same thing back,” Hadley says.
It’s all about meeting people where they are and appreciating what they bring to the table, she adds, which could mean allowing a new parent to shift into part-time work or offering all employees the option to work remotely a few days each week.
It Can Boost Productivity
Managers often fear their employees will abuse flexible work policies and grow unproductive as a result.
And sure, while that could happen, it’s easy to avoid by setting clear targets for your staff, having regular check-ins, and ensuring your whole team is communicating even if some members work different hours or off-site.
In fact, when flex work is implemented smartly, what’s more likely to happen is actually a boost in productivity, research has shown.
One study, which took place over a nine-month period, found flexible workers were a lot more productive than their peers working a traditional 9-to-5 schedule in multiple areas — they achieved more, were off sick less often, and were happier in their jobs.
That’s good news is that, because employees who think they have a positive work-life balance are more productive and dedicated by 21 percent than those who don’t think so, according to a survey of 50,000 employees worldwide, writes William Craig for Forbes.
Flex Work Helps Reduce Worker Burnout
Productivity is one thing, but sometimes your staff can work themselves too hard. And whether it’s the stress of commuting or the frustration of spending most daylight hours in a cubicle, there are plenty of reasons why employees can start to feel burnt out.
Flexible work options, when coupled with other workplace supports, can help reduce the issues that often come with the daily grind, experts say.
“Employees find that being in control of their time reduces the stress and helps them in delivering their job duties efficiently,” writes Suhail Al-Masri for Entrepreneur.
The bottom line, Hadley says, is that flexible work options ensure people feel valued — giving employees a better sense of work-life balance that keeps them happy, thriving, and productive.
“We’re definitely seeing a shift in the workforce where people want to feel like they’re doing something meaningful with their lives,” she says.
Read more about building a strong company culture.