Imagine this. An adviser tells an employer that by introducing a working practice they could cut costs, reduce their carbon footprint, improve productivity and make life better for their workforce. Should the employer listen hard and think how to make it work for the organization? Or should they say, ’It sounds like a good idea, but I’ll limit the idea to a few senior staff members?’
This is exactly what is happening with flexible working in most organizations. The question posed above sounds like a no-brainer, yet nearly 40% of companies restrict flexible working to senior staff according to a study done in the UK. And this statistic corresponds to that of the US where nearly 94% of companies claim to allow employees the flexibility of working offsite but only 40% extend the benefit to at least half of their personnel.
That’s not something you call wide adoption in the face of compelling constructive evidence.
Even though flexible working is better for the environment, improves worker productivity, permits rapid scalability and helps attract a wider talent pool, employers are reluctant to offer this option at a company-wide level. But by doing that, they are excluding many of the people who could benefit the most and also excluding those who see work-life balance as a necessity not a luxury. And on top of that, it is the junior staff, the young talent, that have the greatest job mobility. There are more job opportunities available to them and they are the people that organizations want to recruit; they are the future of any business. These are the workers who can and will move elsewhere if they don’t get the working practices they want.
Echoing this sentiment is an interesting article, Attract and Keep A-Players with Nonfinancial Rewards, which cites that according to CTI Research, 87% of Boomers, 79% of Gen X’ers and 89% of Millenials cite flex working as important. The article goes on to say that companies that treat time as currency – through remote work options, staggered hours and reduced-hour arrangements – are more likely to attract and retain high-caliber employees.
Given the benefits of offering flexibility, why are companies reluctant to offer this option on a grander scale? It appears to boil down to trust.
I find this lack of trust almost unfathomable when I work for a company that supports flexible work schedules for all levels of employees, not just senior management. We have staggered start times depending on employee preferences: some are early risers, some not so early, others have farther to commute and like to avoid heavy traffic times. We have moms who adjust schedules depending on kids’ school schedules. Others have scheduled days to work from home to cut down on commuting to the office. There has even been restructuring to offer job sharing in order to retain valuable employees.
To me and everyone here at MIPRO, this is a measure of common sense.
The good news? I think the trend towards more flexible working options is going to continue to grow. And as the economy and job market in the US continue to improve, employers are going to need to focus on offering flexible work arrangements if they want to hire and retain top talent.
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