‘Flexibility’ emerged as a top priority in the new normal of work and continues to shape employment trends worldwide. A recent survey showed that more than 50% of employees around the globe would quit jobs without flexible work arrangements. Today, workplace flexibility tops the list for job satisfaction among employees than salary forcing employers to reassess conventional business practices to increase employee engagement for business continuity.
So, what does workplace flexibility mean and why is vital to organisational growth and success?
Workplace flexibility provides a strategy for companies to adapt to new changes and expectations for continued business growth. This concept works both ways. Flexible employees are willing to work extra hours during peak periods or stay late at work to help a colleague meet their deadline to suit major organisational goals and the needs of the company. Meanwhile employers who are flexible value their employees’ autonomy and personal needs by providing alternative work arrangements that give them more freedom to determine when, where, and how they manage their workload for better work-life balance. At the end of the day, employees who have a flexible mindset are valuable assets to the company as much as flexible employers and work culture attract the right talents.
Types of Flexible Work Policies
Generally, flexible work policies may be formal (i.e., stipulated in the employment contract) or informal (i.e., mutually agreed upon between employers and employees on an ad-hoc basis). Most flexible work policies involve work schedules (such as flexible shifts and breaks, shorter workweeks of less than five days and increased work hours), working hours (part-time work or shorter hours for those who are in urgent need to care for elderly parents and young children), and work locations (allowing employees to work from home, remotely, or a hybrid arrangement).
The Importance of Flexible Work Practices for Lower Employee Turnover
1) Boosts confidence and motivation.
The trust and freedom provided to workers as to when and how to fulfill their organisational commitments without compromising personal commitments and time with family ensure happier and more productive workers who are willing to go the extra mile to perform better for the overall growth of your company. Employers also benefit from highly-motivated employees as they are unlikely to make emergency departures resulting in a high turnover.
2) Saves time and cost.
Employees who are allowed to work from home or remotely are free from the hassle of commuting to work during the early morning rush hour and may even start work early or during their peak hours of performance leading to delivery of work ahead of time.
3) Respect for autonomy.
Employees gain ownership by learning to handle their workload. The willingness of employers to understand that each employee has a different work rhythm makes them feel empowered to be more productive.
4) Avoid sudden loss of top talent.
Employers offering flexible work arrangements tend to avoid sudden loss of top talents who may be experiencing personal challenges and find it stressful to continue working the conventional way. By implementing flexible work arrangements, your company will save considerable time and costs in recruitment initiatives due to top talent shortages.
5) Reduces the stress of a rigid 9-5 workday.
An eight-hour workday leads to inefficiency and stress as many workers are unable to focus for prolonged periods with common distractions such as e-mails and social media. Research shows that humans are unable to work continuously for 2-3 hours without a 20-30 minute mental break. A typical 9-5 fast-paced workday does not cater to short breaks for workers to mentally recharge and be more productive.
Further, not all types of work are equal. More complicated and analytical-based work requires workers to spend more hours for completion. Moving away from a monotonous schedule by exercising in the morning or working at odd hours after picking up children from school lowers stress levels among workers and the opportunity to focus on delivering quality work.
6) Enhances corporate image.
Employers who are willing to invest in flexible work arrangements demonstrate that they care about their workers’ well-being beyond organisational goals. With the rise of women in the workforce, a culture of inclusion becomes imperative for career progress and life as a parent. This goes a long way to enhance your company’s image as a place with good workplace culture which in turn draws top talent in the long haul.
7) Current prerequisite among top talents.
Much has been said about employees seeking jobs with greater flexibility at the workplace post-pandemic as a prerequisite for job stability. If your company is slow to embrace this new trend, it may get left behind as top talents pursue flexible employment opportunities elsewhere.
Tips to Create a Flexible Work Environment
- Have one-on-one or group discussions.
Talk to your employees to determine what suits them best for greater job satisfaction and work-life balance.
- Do a trial run of the selected flexi-work arrangement.
Although some flexi-work options may sound great on paper, they may not be effective in reality. Set a specific timeframe for the trial run, brief your team on their expectations and gauge their work performance, before implementing any type of flexi-work permanently.
- Monitor employees’ progress.
As flexible work arrangements require new adjustments by your employees, be sure to connect with them on a routine basis via text message or block some time off towards the end of the workday to catch up on their progress.
- Provide employees with the right tools and training.
Employees with the right tools and training such as cloud sharing facilities that simplify work processes, ensure the successful implementation of remote work or hybrid work arrangements.
- Get feedback from employees.
Open and effective communication with employees is vital in creating a healthy and flexible work environment. As employees ease into new work arrangements, be sure to get their feedback on what works for them and how the system can be improved for greater productivity.
The bottom line is workplace flexibility plays a significant role in reducing turnover rates and the sudden loss of top talents. Employers need to be more empathetic to cater to their employees’ well-being to retain the right talent and invest in a culture that thrives on mutual trust and respect rather than the traditional top to down management model. When employers consult employees and gain their feedback on shifts in work practices, employees in return feel appreciated and empowered to ensure the overall success of the organisation.
Bearing this in mind, there’s no better time than the present to invest in a flexible work environment for your company with the simple tips suggested above. With proper execution, your company and employees will surely reap the benefits of a flexible workplace!
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