Benefits and Compensation, Talent

Flexibility: What Job Candidates Want and How Employers Can Provide It

Nearly 40 percent of job candidates say that schedule flexibility is one of the top three factors they consider when making career decisions, while two-thirds of candidates believe they don’t need to sitting at a desk to get their work done, according to new research from RPO provider ManpowerGroup Solutions.


Study findings confirm that workplace flexibility has become a top priority for today’s job seekers. What’s more, the preference for flexibility is global in scope. ManpowerGroup asked 14,000 individuals in 19 countries what matters to them in the job search process.
Among findings, detailed in the report, Work, for me: Understanding Candidate Demand for Flexibility:

  • Flexible arrival and departure times and full-time work from home/location independence are generally the most desired types of flexible workplace policies. Twenty-six percent of global candidates say flexible arrival and departure times are most important, followed closely by the ability to work from home or any other place they choose (22 percent).
  • The rise in the importance of schedule flexibility is driven by a wide range of local factors. These include the presence of multinational companies or unions in that location; the influence of technology firms in the marketplace; workforce composition, such as proportion of millennials; and congestion, infrastructure or public transportation that can impact commuting times.

Defining Flexibility

For the purpose of its study, ManpowerGroup includes eight types of flexible work arrangements:

  • Flexible arrival and departure times
  • Full time work from home/location independence
  • Choice and control in work shifts
  • Part-time work from home
  • Compressed shifts/work week
  • Opportunities for sabbaticals for career breaks (e.g., extended time off)
  • Unlimited paid time off
  • Caregiving leave

“Workplace flexibility doesn’t just mean working remotely. It includes all types of working arrangements, from when to take breaks, working from home or caregiving leave. While no employer can accommodate every option, they can provide a range that appeal to a variety of candidates,” said Kate Donovan, senior vice president of ManpowerGroup Solutions and global RPO president.

Trends in Flexibility

Among trends in workplace flexibility, the study finds:

  • Men want flexibility, too.
  • Industry makes a difference.
  • Candidates are rejecting full-time employment.
  • Full-timers want flexibility, too.

Tips for Employers

Recognizing that flexibility is a priority for today’s job candidates, ManpowerGroup shares six practical recommendations for employers in its report. Among these tips:

  • Take baby steps. A company does not have to force the transition from traditional to virtual workplace overnight. Shift to a 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. schedule or designate a number of remote working flex days to combat long commute times.
  • Normalize existing flexibility policies. Neutralize flexibility stigma by changing company culture to make working outside the office acceptable. It starts from the top – leaders need to be transparent and lead by example.
  • Align incentives with outcomes. Replacing face-time requirements with logged hours on a virtual private network (VPN) can be perceived by employees as inauthentic. Instead, set goals and deadlines – if employees meet them, managers can worry less about clocking in and out.

“It’s clear that candidates across the globe seek a way to achieve ‘One Life,’ which means integrating work and home life. Organizations need to be ready to drop old work models that emphasize presenteeism over performance. It’s time to shift the needle – employers who meet candidate expectations around schedule flexibility have the advantage in recruiting and retaining the best talent,” said Donovan.