The traditional 9–6 workplaces is fast changing and is all set to become a thing of the past. Rapid changes all around us – right from economic, social, political and other factors are forcing organizations to re-evaluate their current operating systems.
Organizations are now shifting focus to the concept of the flexible workplace and embracing litheness at work. It is no longer considered an option, but a significant talent acquisition policy that is to be implemented and executed properly.
Interestingly, of late, the policy of workplace flexibility has started becoming a win-win situation for both – employers and employees alike.
According to the Alfred P. Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, as organizations become multinational in their approach of services, suppliers, and products, the capability to act together with customers and clients all around the world demands a workforce that can operate flexibly regarding hours and locations.
However, one challenge that HR professionals face implementing such policies is the belief that workplace flexibility is highly employee oriented and benefits them most, and not a management practice to enhance organizational productivity. However, studies conducted around workplace flexibility has proved that flexible working hours and location has been responsible for increasing employee satisfaction and productivity.
Defining Workplace Flexibility
Workplace flexibility can be defined as a mutually beneficial arrangement between employers and staff, in which both parties agree upon – when, where and how will both sides work and meet an organizational need. Flexibility can be formal or officially approved through HR policies or may be informal as well.
Four major types of flexible work arrangements are explained in the below image.
Image 1: 4 Major Types of Workplace Flexibility
While not all workplaces can accommodate the above-mentioned flexible schedule, they try and offer flexible practices that can make employees feel happy and also ensure productivity.
The rapidly changing nature of work and the workforce is driving the need for a more innovative and productive work arrangement cutting across all sectors. This is the reason why, there is a huge demand for workplace flexibility among employees worldwide –, especially millennials.
Workplace Flexibility: Benefits for the Organization
Workplace flexibility or flexible work options are likely to be successful when an organization encourages both – its employees and senior management to view flexibility as a business process that is mutually beneficial. When “workplace flexibility policies” are implemented correctly, both the parties benefit. Productivity is maintained and employees also successfully end up managing both—work and non-work demands with equal élan.
#1. Increased job satisfaction
One of the biggest organizational as well as employee benefit of workplace flexibility is the aspect of increased job satisfaction. Reduced turnover, Employee job satisfaction and other long-term benefits and in many such cases workplace flexibility can be used as a strategic tool to ensure increased workplace productivity.
#2. Expanding availability to clients
Now, workplace flexibility can be utilized somewhat strategically – that can eventually help expanding availability to customers by allowing employees work for hours that are non-traditional. However, it is also critical that employees do not feel stressed out because they perceive flexibility as nothing but a strategy that demands them to be available round the clock to work.
#3. Talent attraction and retention
Research shows that flexibility at workplace happens to be a significant predictor of talent attraction as well as retention. In today’s competitive markets, an organization offering workplace flexibility can quickly brand and distinguish itself as an “employer of choice.”
Companies offering remote working or part-time work-from-home opportunities can fill positions with some of the most qualified candidates.
#4. Employee loyalty, engagement, and improved performance
Workplace flexibility options often allow employees to have some control as to when and where work gets done and to make decisions based on the work, which ensures total productivity. Employees may feel more loyal and grateful to an employer that offers them the liberty and the balance to manage their jobs and personal lives. In the research literature, it is known as “positive social exchange relationship.” Such transactions enable productivity to increase if employees end up feeling more engaged at work.
#5. Reduced negative outcomes
Workplace flexibility can end up reducing all kinds of negative consequences such as missed work due to illness; distractions due to non-work demand; unnecessary turnover from employees who cannot meet non-work obligations.
#6. Cost savings and return on investments
Some flexible workplace arrangements can lead to substantial cost savings and also a good return on investments. For example, if employees are working remotely or at a distance full-time – real estate and ergonomics costs decline because office space is not required. The ability to retain good employees by offering workplace flexibility ends up saving money which is otherwise spent on recruitment, hiring and training employees. Decreased stress along with improved health often leads to lesser absenteeism, fewer accidents, and diminished workers’ compensation.
#7. Increased ability to meet demands of globalization
Globalization of businesses also requires employees to be available or readily accessible even outside traditional office hours. Conference calls, video calls often take place across time zones – sometimes early in the morning or even late at night. Rather than choosing to participate in these activities/meetings from the primary worksite, many employees, especially millennials prefer to be at home. This type of flexibility often meets business needs and also takes into consideration the personal responsibilities of employees.
Making Workplace Flexibility a Reality: What the HR can do?
Human resource professionals help corporates advance workforce engagement and productivity. Workplace flexibility can be an essential constituent of these efforts. HR support for application and efficient use of workplace flexibility can include the following:
- Showing how workplace flexibility can help engage and reward employees while at the same time improving business outcomes.
- Inspiring senior management and supervisor to embrace workplace flexibility.
- Supporting workplace flexibility not just as successions of precise programs or rules, but also as a strategic business decision.
- Educating and training teams, employees, and managers on how to contrivance flexible work arrangements to bolster job performance.
- Steering needs assessments to handpick and acclimate flexible policies that best fit business needs as well as the workforce.
- Recognizing and pursuing workforce metrics related to the active use of flexibility.
- Guaranteeing methodical adherence to regulations governing leaves, comp time, breaks and scheduling work across locations.
- Managing the pilot of a workplace flexibility inventiveness and then collecting feedback and working on the initiative as needed.
- Setting a tone of positive organizational change management
Workplace flexibility policies are evolving these days at a rapid pace. Many organizations are experimenting with new ways of working. If implanted correctly, workplace policy and practice can work wonders for both – the employer and employee.
Flexible work schedule can also help an organization become more global, virtual and round-the-clock customer driven. It can not only increase engagement but also help adapt workforce diversity to a considerable extent.
The Facts and Figures are derived from Manpower Report.
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