Strategic HR

Flexible Workplaces: 6 Key Considerations for Employers

More and more employees and job candidates are seeking out employers who offer flexible work arrangements. If your company isn’t keeping up with your competitors’ efforts to offer workplace flexibility, you may be losing out on great talent. What are the steps you can take to implement a more flexible workplace?

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“Employers seeking to recruit and retain top talent need to respond to candidate interests,” said Kate Donovan, Senior Vice President of ManpowerGroup Solutions and Global RPO President. “In this talent scarce market, organizations need to evolve old work models to meet business objectives and demands of job seekers. We need to shift the needle away from rewarding presenteeism toward recognizing performance results.”

According to the Work, for Me: Understanding Candidate Demand for Flexibility report released by ManpowerGroup Solutions, there are several immediate steps and long-term actions employers, recruiters and hiring managers can take to better meet the demand for flexibility.

Here are six ways employers can tap into candidate preferences:

1. Align Incentives with Outcomes

It is basic human nature to reward behaviors to increase the likelihood that they will be repeated. Consider creating a results-oriented work environment where incentives are aligned with outcomes or outputs, not just inputs.

Replacing face-time requirements with logged hours on a virtual private network can be perceived by employees as inauthentic. Set goals and deadlines. If employees meet them, managers can worry less about clocking in and out.

2. Normalize Existing Flexibility Policies

Changing company culture to make working outside the office acceptable can neutralize flexibility stigma. Internal educational campaigns can be used to normalize location independence for all employees.

One national accounting firm used posters of satisfied employees spending flextime outside the office (e.g., fishing in Oregon, ballroom dancing, etc.) with testimonials linking location independence with productivity and satisfaction. The results demonstrated real perceptual change among employees—over a 5-year period, the number of employees who believed working remotely could also lead to promotion increased from 30% to 65%.

3. Take Baby Steps

Changing old habits and learning new ways to work is hard for employees who have been working one way for decades. A company does not have to force the transition from traditional to virtual workplace overnight. In markets with long commute times, worsening traffic problems or insufficient transportation infrastructure, companies might consider shifting to a 10 A.M. to 7 P.M. schedule or designated number of flex days when employees can work remotely.

Evolution – rather than revolution – will also help bridge the gap between traditional styles of management and more autonomous teamwork, as well as any generational gaps that may arise. Understanding the specific factors that drive increasing demands by candidates for schedule flexibility will help management and HR professionals craft meaningful, flexible work arrangements that support the employer brand. Companies should engage their employees in the discussion to ensure flexibility policies actually mesh with employee needs.

4. Leverage Technology

While experts predict virtual reality technologies will change the way the workplace collaborates by connecting in-office employees with remote workers via video, other software technologies are now available to successfully implement flexible workplace arrangements.

Time, workflow, internal communications, project management and feedback tools are ready and waiting. Tools range from platforms that seamlessly track the billable time of contract employees in multiple departments to workflow management assistants. Companies should seek out the tool that best fits their needs.

5. Consider Collaborative Hiring

Companies growing their part-time workforce to meet talent needs can benefit from new talent communities such as innovative collaborative hiring systems. Collaborative hiring can be especially useful to companies from the retail sector or those facing seasonal hiring challenges. Although the term is often associated with the winter holiday months, seasonal hiring is really any period of time where there are predictable ebbs and flows in workforce needs.

The ManpowerGroup Solutions report Collaborating with Competitors details how sharing talent pools can mitigate risk, reduce costs, increase agility and cope with production cycles. Technologies such as WorkMyWay.com assist companies with similar profile needs by offering a single career portal. Candidates join WorkMyWay.com to leverage their skill sets across employers and decide where and when they want to work.

6. Explore New Talent Pools

Flexible work arrangements have the power to uncover new groups of potential candidates who have faced challenges fitting into a traditional workforce culture. Students, retirees and people with disabilities are just a few examples of potential candidate pools that schedule flexibility can reveal to employers. In many cases, expanding candidate profiles to consider those who require schedule flexibility can provide companies with the secondary benefit of enhancing diversity.

In the United States, the ability to work from home has created opportunities for spouses of servicemen and women. It has also opened up opportunities for disabled or chronically ill workers whose treatment schedules may prohibit them from adhering to traditional 9-to-5 workdays.

By keeping these six considerations in mind when setting up a workplace flexibility arrangement, not only will you be providing better work/life balance for your employees, you’ll also stand out among the competition for attracting potential new hires.

For more information on the Work, for Me: Understanding Candidate Demand for Flexibility report, click here.