Benefits and Compensation

Reimagining the World of Work: Flexibility Overtakes the 9 to 5

According to a recent PwC survey, nearly two-thirds of workers are on the hunt for a new job. As the “Great Resignation” continues to evolve, employers need to pull out all the stops to attract top talent and retain their employees, and this includes prioritizing new and sought-after benefits. When looking for a new job, employees increasingly want an employer that offers benefits that meet their changing needs, especially as they relate to health and wellness.

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As business leaders look to remain competitive in the war for talent, a recent report uncovered timely insights into what 1,000 employees in the United States want in order to stay happy and healthy at work. When reassessing talent attraction and retention tactics, numerous findings point to the need for leaders to listen, and react, to the impact the changing work landscape is having on employees’ mental and physical health.

Promoting Physical Well-Being at Work

Data has shown that how an employee feels at a given moment during the workday directly impacts his or her performance and how well he or she completes the job. It is scientifically known that exercise can help increase productivity. However, even when working from home, employees are largely sedentary. Employees claim that nearly 63% of the workday, or roughly 5 hours, is spent being sedentary in a seated position. Dedicating time to regularly step away from work to take a walk or stretch the body is a critical step to reducing long-term aches and pains.

These findings are clear indicators that movement is an essential part of improving employees’ daily routines. Employees reported taking, on average, 5 breaks from work during the 8-hour day, with more than half (57%) revealing they prefer to alternate between sitting and standing when working. It’s critical for employers to promote health and wellness activities during the day, such as going for a midday walk, working from a standing desk, or taking a few minutes to work out in a home gym. Leaders can easily model this behavior to normalize moving frequently throughout the day. This will help better the overall health and wellness of employees and better their workday experience.

Offering Flexibility in Working Hours

The last 2 years have made many employees question whether they are working from home or living at work. The standard 9 to 5 no longer exists, with 40% of employees reporting they work extended hours. Leaders should lean into the flexibility that working from home can bring to their employees and embrace the benefits a flexible work schedule provides.

According to a recent study, an overwhelming majority of employees claim their work/life balance has improved as a result of a hybrid or remote working environment. This suggests that even though some employees are dedicating more time to their work if they’re able to fit it in and around other aspects of their lives, they feel the positive effects of a better work/life balance. It’s important for an organization’s leaders to recognize the benefits and shortcomings of the remote work environment. When executed well, employees can feel more energized and balanced.

Boosting Workplace Culture Through Voluntary Benefits

The pandemic is driving more employers to offer voluntary benefits, with nearly all employers (94%) expecting these employee-pay-all or unsubsidized benefits to hold great importance in their organizations over the next 3 years. One area that can make or break effective talent acquisition is the availability of voluntary benefits.

Many employees have embraced the hybrid work landscape and denounced our pre-pandemic work culture, which revealed there was room for organizations to evolve. Flexible working arrangements have renewed collaboration and connection among colleagues. In fact, 88% of employees agree that the flexibility to work from home or the office has increased their job satisfaction. Business leaders must be open to embracing the hybrid work environment long after the pandemic subsides. Championing employee well-being and helping team members stay comfortable and productive wherever they work must be a priority for all leaders, including the C-suite.

As attracting and retaining talent remains top of mind, business leaders should consider providing stipends or reimbursements for ergonomic furniture, including, but not limited to, standing desks and monitor arms and wellness programs. Working in an environment that makes you feel comfortable, happy, and more energized, whether that be in a room with lots of natural light and greenery or with your pet by your side, leads to better overall productivity and employee well-being.

The pandemic empowered many employees to get up and move, adopting healthier habits than they had while in the office. Companies that ensure their employees can set healthy boundaries and are comfortable and productive wherever they are—whether in the traditional office space or at home—will benefit in the long run.

Chad Severson, CEO of Ergotron, is a senior executive with proven strategic, marketing, operational and general management experience.

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