flexible working

Why Flexible Working is One of the Most Important Benefits You Can Offer

What do yoga, lifting weights, and a massage have in common? Each can help you improve your flexibility. But Travis, what does flexibility have to do with employee benefits? Well, it turns out flexibility may be more vital to your business than most people realize.

In the past, many employers may have believed flexible work was a benefit only young employees desire. But, as several recent studies have found, workers of all types desire more flexible working arrangements. In this post, I’ll tell you about what each of these studies found regarding the positive impact of flexible work. Also, you’ll learn about the benefits of flexible working for both employees and employers.

 

What is Flexible Work?

Flexible work is what it sounds like it is. It means giving your employees more flexibility to choose where, when, or how they work. There are three central flexible work arrangements: flexible locations, flexible schedule, and flexible time.

 

Advantages of Flexible Working for Employees

1. Less Stress

According to a new survey by FlexJobs, 81 percent of respondents thought a flexible job would help them be a better spouse, partner, or significant other. It’s clear, through this statistic, a lack of flexibility can have an adverse impact on your workers’ personal lives.

man with stress

Flexible working allows your employees to work around obligations and responsibilities outside of their job. Whether your employee is a caregiver, parent, or moonlighting, flexible work helps these individuals balance their work-life schedule better which reduces stress.

And reducing employees’ stress is vital to organizational success. A 2013 Gallup poll found 87 percent of workers, worldwide, are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces (a byproduct of stress) and are less likely to be productive.

 

2. Increased Job Satisfaction

Per a new Staples study, a whopping 90 percent of workers say more flexible work arrangements and schedules will boost morale. Similarly, according to a 2018 Zenefits survey, 73 percent of employees said flexible work arrangements increased their satisfaction at work.

Job satisfaction is an essential component of employee recruitment and retention. It’s simple; the more employees are satisfied with their jobs, the more likely they are to stay with, or join, that employer.

 

3. Better Health

Another potential advantage of a flexible working arrangement is improved employee health. According to the FlexJobs study, almost 75 percent of employees said work has conflicted with their efforts to tend to their health. And, 89 percent believed a flexible job would help them take better care of themselves.

healthy employees

Similarly, a study conducted by Stanford Professor Nicholas Bloom found flexible workers used sick leave less often than those without flexible work options. When your employee can work from home, they don’t have to call in sick if they aren’t feeling up to the commute. Flexible working also prevents ill workers from coming to work and infecting other staff members.

 

4. Money Savings

As stated above, flexible work can make your employees healthier. Subsequently, this improved health can help your employees save money. The first way it saves workers money is by reducing the amount they spend on healthcare.

Americans spent $3.5 trillion on healthcare in 2017. Flexible work allows your employees to cut into this amount because they don’t have to work while sick and skip or postpone medical treatment.

Flexible work also saves your employees money on commuting to and from work. Through flexible working options, staff members can reduce or eliminate their commutes. Any reduction in commuting saves employees both time and money.

 

Advantages of Flexible Working for Employers

1. Decreased Costs

We know flexible work can improve employee health. And the healthier your employees are, the more your organization saves. Healthier employees tend to be more engaged and productive. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lost productivity due to poor health, costs U.S. businesses as much as $225.8 billion annually.

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Plus, as your staff becomes healthier, your firm pays less in health coverage for your employees. Per PeopleKeep, employers now pay an average of $5,179 and $12,591 annually for single and family coverage, respectively. Any reduction in these costs is a boom to your company’s bottom line.

 

2. Better Rate of Retention

As previously stated, flexible working helps to improve your firm’s employee retention. If you’re a company without a flexible working policy, there’s a real chance you’ll lose employees because of this policy. Multiple studies have demonstrated the importance of flexible work for employee retention.

According to a Yoh survey, 42 percent of workers said they’d leave their current job for a more flexible work environment. Additionally, per the previously mentioned Staples study, 67 percent of employees would consider leaving their job if work arrangements became more rigid.

These studies demonstrate your employees will, at least, consider leaving their job if your company either eliminated flexible work or never had them in the first place.

 

3. Improved Recruiting

Recruiting and retaining talented employees is a top priority for almost every business. We’ve just covered how flexible working improves retention, but it also boosts your recruitment efforts. Per the Zenefits study, 77 percent of employees would list flexible work as a primary consideration when evaluating future job opportunities.

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Flexible work is especially crucial for millennial employees. A Bentley University study found 77 percent of millennials believe a flexible schedule would make them more productive. The younger generation isn’t tied to the idea of a physical presence being necessary to get work done.

And these millennial employees are only going to grow as a proportion of the total workforce. It’s estimated that by 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. A key benefit for appealing to these recruits will be your company’s flexible work.

 

4. A Greener Business

Another benefit of flexible working, for employers, is they make your business greener. By allowing your employees to work at home, or work fewer hours overall, they spend less time commuting. And the less a person must commute, the smaller their carbon footprint.

According to HealthLine, a 10 percent reduction in an individual’s work hours results in a 15 percent decrease in a person’s carbon footprint. Additionally, your company will need less space, which allows your organization to use a smaller building or office space. Smaller work areas mean using fewer resources and reducing your overall environmental impact.

The greener your company is, the more it can save. Your business can reduce its real estate bill and cut expenses on office supplies. Combined, these savings can add up to thousands of dollars every year.

 

5. More Productivity

In a survey by SHRM, 91 percent of HR professionals agreed flexible working has a positive influence on employee engagement. Likewise, CEB Views has reported highly engaged workers expend nearly six times as much effort in their job as non-engaged colleagues.

remote working

Plus, according to the Zenefits survey, 78 percent of employees reported flexible work made them more productive. Employees believe flexible work allows them to feel more productive. Often this belief alone is enough to boost actual performance.

But there’s also real data to support the claim a solid work-life balance can improve company productivity. According to Inc.,  the Corporate Executive Board, which represents 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies, found employees who believe they have a good work-life balance work 21 percent harder than those who don’t.

 

The Wrap

Your employees want more flexible working options. These options also have clear benefits to your organization, overall. So, if you want to reap the benefits of a more fluid workforce don’t start yoga classes, give your employees more flexible working arrangements.

flexible work

5 Reasons Your Business Will Absolutely Love Flexible Work (Infographic)

Today’s workforce is like an upset, frumpy yoga instructor, they want more flexibility from you. Flexible work arrangements are rapidly becoming one of the most desired employee benefits.

This desire for flexibility extends beyond those rascally millennials, too. According to a 2013 study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 66 percent of non-Millennials would like to sometimes shift their work hours.

Still, despite this demand, many companies have been slow to increase their employees’ flexibility. A 2017 study from The Creative Group found that just 33 percent of firms offer flextime to their workers. And only 30 percent of companies offer telecommuting as an option.

So, if your company wants to maximize its potential it would be wise to examine your flexible work policy.

 

Why Flexibility is so Important

A 2014 Gallup survey found that 46 percent of employees say that flexibility is the most important aspect when looking for a job. Clearly, employees value flexibility, but why?

Flexibility is important for employees because it gives them an improved work-life balance. Work-life balance is the number one reason employees wanted flexible work options, according to a survey by FlexJobs.

Still, work-life balance isn’t the only reason your employees might be clamoring for flexible work. These options let your employees live an easier and less-stressful life. This equates to more engaged, and ultimately productive workers.

In a 2015 Collaborative Worker Survey, out of employees who worked remotely at least a few times per month, 77 percent reported greater productivity while working offsite. Clearly, your workers can stand to benefit from flexible work, but your business can too.

Here are the top 5 reasons your company will love flexible work.

 

Flexible Options

Feel free to share or embed this infographic on your own site. To embed click “Share” on the bottom left corner of the infographic, then simply copy and paste the code.

Learn more about flexible work arrangements and their potential benefits to your company.

flexible work arrangements

Ease Your Employees’ FOMO With Flexible Work Arrangements

The fear of missing out, FOMO. Today’s society, especially those from younger generations don’t want to miss a night out, a party, a concert, an experience. As more millennials enter the workforce, this fear will only grow.

It is estimated that by 2025 millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. Millennials have grown up with instant everything. The ubiquity and mobility of technology have led to a certain expectation of flexibility.

Still, millennials are not the only generation that desires flexibility. Older generations have kids, grandkids, appointments, and other obligations that require their time and attention.

Even though their priorities may differ, every generation wants to be present for the experiences that are important to them. Most employees want the power to choose when and/or where they work (at least some of the time).

Flexible work options are something upper management and employees can agree are good for business. They are a win-win for both parties. Find out the benefits of flexible work arrangements here.

 

What options for flexible work are there?

There are three major flexible work arrangements: Flexible location, flexible schedule, and flexible time. Each of these presents unique benefits to your employees. Though, they all come with a particular set of challenges for your company.

 

1. Flexible location

A flexible location means giving your employees the ability to choose where they work. Flexible location gives employees the power to work from home, a coffee shop, a client’s office, or while on the road.

Flexible location allows you to recruit prospects who live far from your office and retain employees who have to move away from your office. Employees such as these, who are only able to commute a few times a week or month, benefit greatly from a flexible work location.

 

2. Flexible Schedule

A flexible schedule means giving your employees the ability to choose when they work. These options can include compressed workweeks, alternative schedules, and schedule shifts.

Compressed schedules give employees longer work days, but less total days during the week. A popular example includes four ten-hour work days. Alternative schedules such as 7 am to 3 pm give employees another tool to work around their lives.

Flexible schedules give employees the opportunity to avoid sacrificing certain aspects of their personal lives, in the name of the job. If you have to pick your kids up before or after school, are in a club, or have sports practice flexible schedules can help you work around these.

 

3. Flexible Hours

Flexible hours allow your employees the power to choose the number of hours they work during the week. This option lets employees who are unable to work the traditional 40-hour workweek the ability to continue to contribute to the organization.

Part-time, job sharing, and other alternatives such as working weekends or night shifts are included in flexible hour arrangements. This option lets your employees choose when they are going to work, which, in turn, allows them to work when they are most productive.

 

What are the benefits of flexible work options?

While the benefits of flexible work arrangements may be evident for employees, are there equal benefits for the employer? Yes. Flexible work arrangements can help an organization in a plethora of ways.

 

1. A Greener Business

The first benefit of flexible work arrangements is that it makes your business greener. By allowing some of your employees to work at home, or work fewer hours they spend less time commuting.

The less a person has to commute, the smaller their carbon footprint is. According to HealthLine, a 10 percent reduction in an individual’s work hours results in a 15 percent decrease in a person’s carbon footprint.

Additionally, as a company, you will need less space, which allows your organization to use a smaller building or office space. Smaller spaces mean using fewer resources and reducing your overall environmental impact.

Being a green company also lets your organization save money. Your business can reduce its real estate bill, and cut expenses on office supplies. Combined, these could save your company thousands of dollars every year.

Making your company greener also helps your business in the next benefit…

 

2. Improved Recruiting

Flexible work gives your business an edge up when recruiting the top talent. The first reason your recruiting will improve is through opening a bigger talent pool from which your company can draw.

Flexible work arrangements allow you to recruit individuals outside your local geographic location, who are unable to relocate at the time. This increased reach allows you to recruit top candidates across your state and even country.

benefits consultant

Your recruiting pool will also expand due to those who would be unable to work a traditional 9-5 job. Stay-at-home parents, retirees, professionals with disabilities, and others with similar circumstances would suddenly be available to work.

Your recruiting would also improve because flexible work is not an option that many other companies fully support. Workplace flexibility distinguishes your business from your competition.

A survey through WorldatWork found that 80 percent of companies offer flexible work options, yet only 44 percent of these publicize them.

This statistic means less than half (!!) of companies with flexible work options publicize that these choices. In total roughly, only 35 percent of companies both have and promote their flexible work options.

As previously stated, flexible work arrangements also make you a more environmentally conscious company. An eco-friendly work environment is another tool your business can endorse, while on the recruiting trail.

If your firm has flexible work arrangements, supports and publicizes them, you will have an edge on your competition.

 

3. Better Retention

On the opposite end of the spectrum, flexible work can also help to grow your company’s retention rates. When given more flexibility your employees will respond with increased loyalty to the business.

A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 89 percent of HR professionals reported an increase in employee retention by implementing flexible work arrangements.

Similarly, a survey from FlexJobs discovered that 82 percent of professionals said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. And 39 percent of professionals turned down a promotion, have refused a job, or quit a job because of a lack of flexible work.

Employees with flexible work options feel better about their job, and their employer. When faced with leaving the organization, your staff will have to consider whether another company will support flexible work, like yours does.

Better retention rates also help save your company money. The Center for American Progress established that the average cost of employee turnover was 21 percent of that worker’s annual salary.

 

4. Healthier Employees

Flexible work arrangements can improve the health of your staff. In the same study, FlexJobs found that that 87 percent of employees believe a flexible schedule would lower stress levels, and over 75 percent said it would make them healthier.

According to Forbes, a study conducted by Stanford Professor Nicholas Bloom found that flexible workers used sick leave less often than those without flexible work options.

healthy employee habits

 

A workforce solution company Circadian found that unscheduled absenteeism costs around $3,600 per year for each hourly employee, and $2,650 every year for salaried employees.

When your employees can complete work from home, they don’t have to call in sick if they aren’t feeling up to the commute to work. It also prevents ill employees from coming to work and infecting the rest of your staff.

Flexible work options can save your company thousands of dollars on a reduction in unscheduled absenteeism.

Improving the overall health of your employees also helps your business save money on health insurance. The healthier your employees are, the less the spend on health care, the less your organization spends on health insurance coverage.

 

5. More Productive Workers

As most business and HR leaders will recognize, increased productivity is the Big Kahuna (the Holy Grail, the Crème de la Crème) for any organization. The more productive your employees are, the more profitable your company is.

Flexible work options increase employee engagement and satisfaction, which in turn, drives employee productivity. In a survey by SHRM, 91 percent of HR professionals agreed that flexible work arrangements have a positive influence on employee engagement.

Likewise, CEB Views has reported that highly engaged workers expend nearly six times as much effort in their job as their non-engaged colleagues.

In a 2015 Collaborative Worker Survey, out of employees who worked remotely at least a few times per month, 77 percent reported greater productivity while working offsite.

 

The Wrap

Millennials and the generation after, are more connected than any generation that has come before. This connectivity has heightened the sense of disappointment they receive from missing out on an experience.

Now, every missed opportunity has to be relived online and through social media. FOMO has driven employees to crave an improved work-life balance. A solid work-life balance helps your company too.

According to Inc., the Corporate Executive Board, which represents 80% of Fortune 500 companies, found that employees who believe they have a good work-life balance work 21 percent harder than those who do not.

Use flexible work arrangements to make sure your employees’ FOMO is no mo’.

shorter workweeks

Do Shorter Workweeks Actually Make a Difference?

Seventy-nine years. There has been no decline in the standard workweek since the passing of the FLSA in 1938, 79 years ago.

In other economically rich countries, a shorter workweek has been a staple for years. The U.S. continues to lag behind many, if not most, economically wealthy countries around the world.

The average American works 34.40 hours per week, according to The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. This average is at least an hour more per week than Italy, Japan, Canada, Spain, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, and more.

Even one of the richest men in the world, Carlos Slim, has advocated for a 33-hour workweek consisting of three, 11 hour days.

Why has the U.S. been so slow to respond to shortening the workweek? Here we will examine the positives and negatives of a shortened workweek to consider whether or not they can make a difference.

 

Positives

1. Less Stress

The first positive of shorter workweeks is they can result in less stress for your employees. Stress, as you’ve likely heard, is the silent killer. This cliché rings true for both people and businesses as a whole.

Stress costs U.S. businesses an average of over $300 billion a year in stress-related health care expenses and missed work. This statistic is a catch-22 for employers because work is one of the biggest causes of stress in America.

Work related stress is so prominent in the U.S. that 55 percent of workers consider their jobs more stressful than both financial and relationship problems, according to Entrepreneur.

A shorter workweek gives employees more time to recover from work and more of a work/life balance. The more time spent away from work, the better able employees are to combat the effects of and separate themselves from work-related stress.

The University of Melbourne recently conducted a study of adults in Australia, ages 40 to 69, that demonstrated the stress-reducing effects of a shorter workweek.

This study found that shorter workweeks helped to reduce the amount of fatigue and stress that can damage cognitive functions.

The study demonstrated that 25-30 hour workweeks had a beneficial cognitive impact (by reducing the stress from work) on men, and 22-27 hour workweeks helped women.

 

2. Improved Recruiting

Another positive of shorter workweeks is that it provides a boost your company’s recruiting profile. According to CNN Money, 5 percent of large U.S. companies and 14 percent of small ones offer short work weeks.

If your business is one of the few to offer a shorter work week, you will likely have a serious edge over most of your competition. As more employers begin to offer flexible work options, you can separate yourself through shortened workweeks.

 

3. Happier Employees

One of the positives of a shorter workweek is improved employee morale. Having a greater work/life balance is key to having a positive office morale.

Accounting giant KPMG instituted a four-day workweek and discovered that employees found great satisfaction in having control over their time. The short workweek increased employee morale.

At Treehouse, an online education company, 32-hour workweeks led to happier employees. According to CEO Ryan Carson, there was a palpable boost in employee morale throughout the office.

Swedish nursing home staff, when given four-day workweeks reported they were 20 percent happier than before, which resulted in a higher quality of care for patients according to management.

 

4. Lower Turnover

Lower turnover is another positive result of short workweeks. KPMG experienced an increase in employee retention after instituting their shorter workweeks.

Tax services firm Ryan started using compressed weeks and found similar success in retaining staff. After 2008, when the program began, the company has seen its employee turnover drop from 30 to 11 percent.

 

5. Improves Workplace Gender Equality

Shorter workweeks are a significant tool to help your business combat workplace gender inequality. Many couples today are two-earner families, and the amount of time these couples work has steadily increased.

It is increasingly rare that there is one partner at home who can focus all of their attention on taking care of the children, house, and the thousands of other details that make up daily living.

Having a shorter workweek helps bring equality to the household by allowing both men and women to have more time for housework and child care.

As Madeline White of the Sydney Morning Herald says, “It’s not just about getting women into work, it’s about getting men to go home.” A four-day workweek could free up men to take care of their kids and the home while more women work part-time hours.

 

6. Promote a Greener Business

If your business promotes itself and its employees as a “green” business, a shortened workweek is another way to show your support as an eco-friendly company. A shorter workweek means less travel being done for commutes.

HealthLine reported that a 10 percent reduction in an individual’s work hours results in a 15 percent decrease in a person’s carbon footprint.

Additionally, a Swedish experiment found that a decrease in work time by 1 percent corresponds to a .8 percent reduction in household greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

 

7. Healthier Employees

One constant with any survey or study of short workweeks is that they have a large positive impact on your employees’ health.

According to the Center for a New American Dream, employees that work more than 11 hours a day are 2.5 times more likely to develop depression. They are also 60 (!!) times more likely to develop heart disease.

Sweden discovered that staff in nursing homes, when given a four-day workweek, took half as much sick time as those in the control group.

Healthier employees benefit your organization twofold. The first reason being, healthier employees are more productive. Not only are healthy employees more productive while at work, but they are less likely to miss work (Which increases organizational productivity).

Another reason healthy employees benefit your organization is through the cost of their medical coverage. The healthier an individual is, the less expensive it will be for your business to provide that individual health insurance.

 

8. Greater Productivity

Research from a 2014 Stanford University paper indicated that there was a non-linear relationship between hours worked and output. Meaning, the correlation between how much someone worked and their productivity had a weak correlation.

Similarly, in his research, Professor K. Anders Ericsson, found the notion that longer work hours lead to greater productivity is a fallacy. Professor Ericsson found that a longer work day doesn’t result in improved production, it creates burnout.

In Sweden, nurses with shorter workweeks were 2.8 times less likely to take any time off in a two-week timeframe. Furthermore, these employees did 64 percent more activities with residents than before.

Not only do longer workweeks have a negligible effect on productivity, but they can also lead to more mistakes. A study by the Families and Work Institute found that employees who feel overworked often make more mistakes.

 

Negatives

1. More Employees

If your business requires around-the-clock employees, or longer hours than the typical business (Such as hospitals, or retail stores), then you will be forced to hire more employees to ensure that all your hours are covered.

The nursing homes in Sweden experienced this occurrence. BenefitsPro reported that to cover the reduced hours for 68 nurses, the home had to hire extra staff at the cost of around $1.3 million dollars.

In addition to an increase in costs, just managing and maintaining more employees is another negative itself. The more employees a business has, the more difficult management becomes on almost every level.

 

2. Mismatched Schedules

If you run a company in an industry that typically follows a traditional work day, your business may run into difficulties interacting with more traditional companies.

For example, if your business has every Friday off then companies using a five-day workweek won’t be able to communicate with your employees for one entire working day. This kind of mismatching schedule could strain communication between businesses.

Communication is the key to any relationship, especially a business one. An entire day of work with little or no communication could result in increased friction and tension in your business relationship. This tension could create negative business results for your company.

 

The Wrap

As with any decision, there are both positives and negatives to a reduced workweek. Every business is unique, and a shortened workweek may not be the best choice for your particular situation.

Still, for many businesses, a shorter workweek brings a number of positives. If applied properly, your company could use this benefit to strengthen your business.

Use a shorter workweek to ensure your company’s work isn’t weak.