Flexibility: What Employees Want & Need for Christmas 2020 (Part 2)

“What I really wanted from my employer for Christmas,” the employee said, “Wasn’t the ham the company expediter delivered. I want and need what matters more—flexibility so I can work AND handle what life has thrown at me.

Do you wonder how to wish your employees happy holidays this year? Do you deliver gift packages?  Email bonus checks? Both great gestures.

Or do you give them gifts that last longermore of what they want and need in their jobs?

If you’d like your employees to rejoice, remember that many employees walk a tightrope balancing personal and work responsibilities, and gift them with flexibility.

Flexibility

The need for flexibility: huge: According to a documented survey, 54% of professionals reported needing more job flexibility than they received.

The reality: employers can offer flexibility without cost. Employers can gift employees with flexibility, allowing them to succeed in their jobs without having to sacrifice their personal lives.

To understand the need, and the savings and other benefits employers reap, read on.   

The statistics

According to a Harvard Business Review survey conducted on 1,583 white-collar professionals HBR considered representative of the U.S. workforce, 96% of employees said they need flexibility, yet only 47% reported having access to the flexibility they needed—a gap of 54%.1 According to the study, while both male and female employees sought flexibility, the gap between desired and received flexibility was greater for female than male employees.

If was true for white-collar professionals, consider how much greater the gap might be for blue- and pink-collar workers.

The need

Balancing personal challenges

Many employees feel stretched past their breaking point by the need to assist their children with Zoom schooling while working eight hours a day between eight and five. Often, critical work meetings occur simultaneously with school district Zoom breakdowns.

COVID-19 has made supporting working parents an employer necessity.

Employees without children benefit as well. They don’t need to leave work to be home when the plumber arrives to fix the furnace or handle an ill family member.

Physical health and wellness. 

With gyms closed, and winter upon us, many workers long to exercise outside during daylight hours, but find themselves handicapped by the traditional workday schedule.

Flexibility Benefits Employers Can Offer Without Cost

What does it cost employers to offer employees flexibility? Often zero. Consider the following solutions:

  • Remote work. Allow your employees to work off-site for part or all their work week, saving them commuting time.
  • Unconventional hours. Allow your employees to reorder their working hours to create a schedule that works best for them and optimizes productivity and performance for the employer. For employees home-schooling children, this means work done before the kids wake up, in snatches throughout the school day, and after the kids finish dinner. For commuting employees, this may mean a seven a.m. to 3 p.m. work schedule to shave off as much as an hour from rush hour commute time.

According to a study reported in businessnewsdaily.com, 26% of employees stated that the freedom to choose when they start and end their shifts is one of the two flexible workplace policies that employees desire most (the other is the ability to choose their work location).

  • Guilt-free stepping away. Grant your employees the ability to step away from portions of their workday, marking them off so they can schedule time helping their school-age children or taking care of personal needs.
  • Reduced workload with a part-time schedule/reduced workload. Allow employees unable to work full-time with a part-time schedule. Enable job sharing and gain two minds synergistically tackling one role.
  • Alternative schedules. Employers can institute flextime or compressed work weeks.

More reasons for employers to act

Retention 

According to the HBR study and my own surveys, employees lacking flexibility are twice as likely to report that they’re dissatisfied at work.

Productivity

Employees with workday flexibility can better leverage their time and effort, by working with concentration when not disrupted by home tasks, often prior to and after their children’s school days.

Deloitte & Touche reported savings of $41.5 million in employee turnover costs from retaining employees who stated that they would have left if they weren’t able to work a flexible schedule.

CoSo Cloud conducted a remote collaborative workers survey that reported that 77% of remote workers show higher productivity and 30% of employees complete more work in less time than in the office. Another 24% of employees completed more work in the same amount of time.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, Compaq’s flexible workforce increased productivity between 15 and 45 percent, and American Express’ flexible workforce achieved a productivity level 43 percent higher than their traditional counterparts.

Attract top talent

Top candidates seek employers that offer workday flexibility. According to a study conducted by ManpowerGroup Solutions, nearly 40% of job candidates (worldwide) reported that schedule flexibility was one of their top three factors used when making career decisions.

A flexible work policy provides employers a no-cost way to make your total employee compensation package stand out and enables them to attract top-tier employees who can only handle a flexible or part-time work schedule.

Increase employee investment

According to a 2019 survey by FlexJobs, eighty percent of employees reported that they would feel more loyal to employers if their employers provided them with flexible work options.

Employees provided workday flexibility by their employers feel trusted, respected and valued, and often work extra weekend hours as a “payback” to their employers who allowed them to take time out during the traditional workweek. According to Global Workplace Analytics AT&T discovered that its remote workers worked five more hours than its office workers.

Reduced costs

Employers that allow remote work and telecommuting reduce their space needs and facility maintenance and utility costs.

What will you give your employees this holiday season? How about a gift that provides employees more of what they want and need—flexibility.

1https://hbr.org/2018/06/96-of-u-s-professionals-say-they-need-flexibility-but-only-47-have-it

If you enjoyed this post, please look for part 1 “communication & connection” https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/12/what-employees-really-want-for-christmas/(12/21); part 3 “empathy”https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/12/what-employees-want-for-christmas-2020-someone-who-gets-it-part-3-of-a-series/ (12/24); part 4 “recognition & gratitude”https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/12/a-christmas-new-years-surprise/ (12/28), “leadership & the way forward” (12/30) and professional development (12/31/20). And, as always, I love receiving your comments and your questions in https://workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach/.  

© 2020, Lynne Curry

Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR, is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016, https://amzn.to/30V5JO6) and “Solutions”, https://amzn.to/2GYlnAN (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at https://workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach/ or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10. www.workplacecoachblog.com.

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