Making Flexibility Work

With all of the crazy weather lately, companies have been forced to consider how to address the various needs and concerns of their employees. In many cases, offices were shut down and employees were provided flexibility to work from home or find other ways to balance their business and personal situations. In today’s business world, flexibility is so important not only on snow days but in general. As the workforce continues to age and multiple generations are working together, the demands for flexible work arrangements are increasing.

Flexible work options became popular back in the late 80’s and early 90’s as Gen X began entering the workforce. This generation puts a huge emphasis on work/life balance and challenged many organizations to embrace flexibility. Today, it’s not only Gen X that desires flexibility but the other generations as well as they face the challenges of dual careers, elderly care and desires to reduce work hours as they transition into the next phase of life. In a study conducted by Georgetown University Law Center, Workplace Flexibility 2010, nearly 80{ab94462a053a2ab588073f1ce95eb9eb90ee27f61c6d82493022c3820c6de4c9} of workers said that they would like to have more flexible work options and would use them if there were no negative consequences at work.

Realistically, there are some businesses and positions that cannot accommodate flexible work arrangements. However, with some creative thinking on the part of the employer and employee it’s often not as difficult as anticipated. Here are just a few reasons that organizations should consider implementing or increasing the use of Flexible Work Arrangements:

  • Attracting Talent: most recruits today will ask about flexible work arrangements and many won’t join a company that does not offer them.
  • Increased Job Satisfaction: studies have shown that when an employee has flexibility they are more satisfied. Increased satisfaction leads to increased engagement. Increased engagement leads to more productive employees.
  • Reduction in Absenteeism: flexible work arrangements often reduce the need for employees to use other forms of paid or unpaid time off to attend to personal business.
  • Talent Retention: employees who have the option to utilize flexible work arrangements are more likely to stay with a company and often feel more loyalty towards the company.
  • Reduced Stress: flexible work arrangements give employees the opportunity to define how and when their work gets done which helps to reduce the stress and pressure often associated with defined work hours.

The success of Flexible Work Arrangements is a shared responsibility between the employer and the employee. Communication is critical and both parties must be willing to commit to regular discussions on how the arrangement is working and make adjustments when necessary.

The workforce of the 21st century is extremely diverse. Gone are the days of treating everyone the same. Employees have different needs, expectations and preferences and a one-size-fits-all approach just does not work. Companies that embrace these concepts have the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by employing a more aligned, engaged and productive workforce. Now, what company doesn’t want that?

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