Workplace flexibility is no longer an option for executive recruiters all over the world. It has, in fact, become a talent management policy that job seekers look for in companies. To gain greater insights into the workplace preferences of candidates, ManpowerGroup Solutions conducted the Global Candidate Preferences Survey. Post the tabulation and careful analysis of the data collated it was discovered that, nearly 40 percent of candidates all across the globe consider schedule flexibility among the top 3 factors while making career decisions. Employers are now left with the choice to either focus on workplace presenteeism and lose potential candidates or normalize schedule flexibility to retain in-demand talent.
Technological advancement has shifted the paradigm in many workplaces. Employers are now making efforts to keep pace with the changing employee preferences. Owing to the changing requirements of job seekers, executive recruiters are also engaging in implementing various forms of flexibility policies in organizations. And those who choose to stick to the old ways of working could be at a disadvantage as top talent would prioritize workplace flexibility.
The findings of the survey also revealed that the need for flexibility is not limited to a particular gender or age group. Men too want workplace flexibility. Millennials who do not want to be physically tied to their workplace form a major part of this group. More and more people are rejecting full-time employment for contract and project-based employment. And, those preferring full-time employment too are demanding schedule flexibility.
Amidst these new found revelations, it is crucial that executive recruiters take immediate steps and longer-term actions to better meet the demand for flexibility. The topmost priority for every employer is to hire the top talent in the market and to retain them in the organization. To do this, it is important that employers adhere to the changing preferences of job seekers. They need to formulate relevant policies to accommodate various workplace flexibility arrangements. This should rank high on the priority list for executive recruiters across the world.
To formulate cohesive policies that ensure the retainment of top talent and creates an engaging Employer Value Proposition, it is vital for employers to understand the precise connotations associated with workplace flexibility. Workplace flexibility refers to a broad spectrum of work arrangements. It ranges from employees having control on when they can take breaks to full work-from-home programs for caregiving leaves. There are typically 8 types of flexible work arrangements –
One of the most demanded preferences of candidates is flexible arrival and departure times. Twenty-six percent of the global candidates want flexible arrival and departure times. Job seekers feel this would enable them to come up with better outcomes as compared to places where there are stringent schedules.
The second most desired form of flexibility is full-time work-from-home or location independence. Countries like Argentina and India where the infrastructure and public transport are not up to the mark, people find it difficult to commute to their workplaces. In such cases, being able to work-from-home is an ideal solution. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that 22 percent of the global candidates want to be able to work from home full-time or whenever they like.
The third type of workplace flexibility candidates look for is the choice and control in work shifts. There is about 15 percent of the global candidates who want the freedom to choose their work shift. Among the candidates surveyed in Japan, 28% people wanted a better control over their shift timings.
Countries like China that are rapidly developing require dedicated employees to work long hours. The resulting stress leads to employees wanting sustained break periods from employment. This is also a reason why the employees in China are thrice as likely to want to take sabbaticals or career breaks. This is the fourth type of workplace flexibility arrangement that global candidates look for in organizations. Other forms of flexible workplace arrangements are part-time work-from-home, compressed work weeks, unlimited paid-time off and caregiving leave.
While not all these practices can be directly implemented in organizations, executive recruiters can make sure that a combination of these arrangements are provided to employees at various stages of their work-life.
Gone are the days when all we had were 40-hour, 50-week schedules. As per the Global Candidates Preference Survey, candidates chose from the following six scenarios to identify their current or preferred work models:
Analyzing these pointers, t is evident that workplace flexibility is a genuine workforce demand and hence, executive recruiters all over the world need to up their game. They need to take actionable steps to include the rise in the need for workplace flexibility. Be it a policy change or making the most of technological advancement, employers have to meet the demand for flexibility. Let’s take a look at the key considerations for employers in a world of flexible workplaces:
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 facetime requirements with logged hours on a VPN (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.
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) with testimonials linking location independence with productivity and satisfaction.
The results demonstrated real perceptual change among employees – over a five-year period, the number of employees who believed working remotely could also lead to promotion increased from 30 to 65 percent.
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. Changing old habits and learning new ways to work is hard for employees who have been working one way for decades.
Evolution rather than a 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 human resources 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.
While experts predict virtual reality (VR) 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.
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.
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.
If you wish to know more about what you can do as employers in a world of flexible workplaces, get in touch with our experts at ManpowerGroup Solutions.