Recent research supports a premise that’s long been acknowledged by employees across virtually all industries – probably since the first time a worker kissed his kids goodbye and left the family farm to work outside his home: We need more flexibility and work/life balance.
It’s not limited to working parents versus singles or dual-income-with-no children couples. It’s not centered on any one age group or level of professional experience – though millennial workers have expressed a heightened priority for more flexibility. It’s pretty much across the board. And really, is anyone surprised to hear this?
Now more than ever, employers need to respond to the needs of their workforces when it comes to giving them the balance they need. Consider these statistics:
- Close to three quarters (73 percent) of working adults agree that flexibility is one of the most important factors they consider when deciding whether to join a particular company. This is up from 61 percent a year ago.
- An overwhelming 80 percent emphasize that flexible scheduling is just as important for people without children.
- Among young millennial workers, 59 percent would opt to be temporary employees or consultants rather than settle into a full-time job, in order to ensure flexibility. More than half said they would leave a job if it wasn’t flexible enough.
And perhaps the most telling statistic of all:
- Almost half (45 percent) of employees surveyed said they would be willing to sacrifice a portion of their salary for more flexibility. This number has stayed consistent for the past three years.
The Good, the Bad and the Future
It’s clear that today’s employees are more ready than ever to abandon the traditional 9-to-5 workday. They are led by younger members of the workforce, 58 percent of whom are seeking positions where they can work from home, at least occasionally.
- On a positive note, 70 percent of working adults feel their company would accommodate them if they requested flex time for family, health or personal work preference reasons. And 75 percent said they already have “at least a little” schedule flexibility – up from 68 percent a year ago.
- The bad news: 50 percent of employees believe asking for flexible work options would hurt their chances at career advancement.
So, if companies are willing to provide flexible options and a majority of employees want them, why should asking for them hinder a person’s career? Especially when it comes to younger individuals who represent the future of an organization. Millennial workers will comprise 46 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020, so they are clearly a force to be reckoned with.
Benefits of Offering Flexibility
If you haven’t done so already, start by taking these steps towards more flexibility – and a happier, more fulfilled workforce:
- Give employees control over their time. Within reason, let them to alter their schedules to address personal matters.
- Implement telecommuting. Allow employees to work from home part of the time.
Employers who take the lead in offering flexible work hours will attract and retain more top talent. It’s a no-brainer. Flexibility is what workers want – and increased employee satisfaction is directly related to enhanced engagement, productivity and profitability.