Many employers have taken notice that employees today are requesting flexible work options more often. Whether that’s telecommuting, a flexible work schedule, a shortened work week, or some other flexible arrangement, these types of benefits are becoming more and more common.
It can help employers to understand the reasons behind these requests. They’re not necessarily borne out of a simple desire to have a longer weekend or shorter commute – though those certainly are reasons. There can be many practical reasons why employees request more flexibility, and when HR teams understand the underlying reasons, they can be better equipped to meet employee needs even if they’re unable to meet the specific request at hand.
Why Do Employees Want Flexible Work?
Here are some of the many reasons employees value flexible work arrangements:
- Flexible work hours may allow for childcare duties like school pickup, which reduces stresses and costs associated with finding someone to look after their child or children at the end of the school day.
- Flexible schedules can allow more options for caregiving, which can be incredibly important for workers juggling the need to care for aging parents and/or other family members.
- Flexibility of working hours can give employees more options for things like scheduling appointments and running errands, which can be a big benefit because it can mean that less weekend time is devoted to such things, and weekends can be better utilized to de-stress. This can also mean employees can get things accomplished in a timelier manner since they’re not competing for the limited appointments available after work and during weekend hours, so appointments can be made sooner. (If employees are proactive, this can even be a benefit for employers, as the employees are able to address health issues sooner and make more time for preventive care, thus reducing absences overall.)
- Stress can be reduced because employees who have flexibility have a greater likelihood of being able to balance work and other priorities without feeling the need to sacrifice one for the other. This can mean employees have the time to do things like fit exercise into the day, which is another stress reliever. Yet another reason flexible work arrangements can reduce stress is because being away from the office can minimize interpersonal conflicts and increase productivity.
- Having flexibility means employees have more control over their day and how it is managed, which can lead to a greater feeling of satisfaction and autonomy at work. This is an aspect of work/life balance.
- Employees also value flexible working arrangements because such arrangements show that the employer trusts the employee to perform the job to the required standards without necessarily being at the workplace during strict hours.
- Flexible scheduling can allow employees to transition to retirement more easily by switching to a reduced schedule in some capacity before retirement. This can ease their transition out of the workforce.
- Employees who have the option to work from home (or other location) may have reduced commuting costs (and commuting stress), which also means they’ll have more time in their day since less of the day is devoted to travel. Costs for things like meals and dry cleaning are also reduced.
- Employees value the ability to work from home because it often means less distractions, which equals better productivity.
These are a few of the many reasons employees value flexibility in their working arrangements. What flexibility do you offer employees? Or are you considering adding these types of benefits?