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You might not know it, but flexibility at work is quickly becoming one of the most important factors affecting people’s decisions to accept a job offer. In fact, according to a recent survey from ManPowerGroup Solutions, 40 percent of job candidates cite schedule flexibility as one of their top three considerations when it comes to making career choices. Not only that, the US has the highest percentage of job candidates who want work flexibility (45 percent). So, if you want to secure top talent, and beat your competitors, offering a flexible workplace is an absolute must.

Demand for flexibility is growing

The number of candidates who cite the importance of flexible work options is rising every year, and nowadays, almost two-thirds of workers say that they don’t need to be sitting at their desk to get their work done. And while flexible working arrangements used to be viewed as a gender issue, with women overwhelmingly the ones requesting it, the number of male workers who want flexibility has steadily risen. As a result, today’s workers expect flexible work arrangements as a matter of course regardless of their gender.

Defining flexibility and its drivers

Flexible work arrangements can take a variety of formats and, depending on their personal situations and stages of life, workers will naturally favor certain practices over others. Some of the most common types of flexible work arrangements include:

  • Compressed shifts or work weeks
  • Opportunities for sabbaticals or career breaks
  • Unlimited paid time off
  • Caregiving leave
  • Flexible arrival and departure times
  • Location independence
  • Full or part-time work from home options
  • Contract or project work

There are quite a few forces driving the rise of flexible working. For example, increasing numbers of large companies, particularly in tech, are fueling innovative alternative working arrangements. Those practices are now bleeding into other organizations.

At the same time, millennials expect flexibility because the technology they have grown up with has basically liberated them from offices, desks, and traditional 9-to-5 working hours. Plus, people in some areas are sick of enduring lengthy commutes, poor infrastructure, or lack of public transportation. They can achieve more by working remotely and are more productive without a two-hour long round trip to the office. And, here in the US, where workers regularly forego paid vacation time, unlimited paid time off (PTO) has a particular allure.

Why is it a good thing?

Global studies have shown that in almost every case, workers who experience high levels of work satisfaction, also have high levels of workplace flexibility. That’s important considering that more than two-thirds of workers say they feel they don’t have enough time to spend on themselves, their partners, and their family. Higher levels of flexibility mean they have more time, or at least are better able to allocate it to accommodate their professional and personal commitments.

Flexible workers also report feeling that they are trusted more to make decisions, and that they prefer to be assessed on the quality and results of their work, rather than the hours they put in. Offering good flexible working practices creates happier employees and happier employees are more engaged and productive.

Furthermore, offering flexible working means you can explore and take advantage of new talent pools, such as students, retirees, veterans, and people with disabilities. These groups might not be able to commit to a traditional 9-to-5 role on-site, but if you can offer them arrangements that work for them, you could be tapping into a whole new pool of talented workers.

You need to be flexible to compete

Workplace flexibility is no longer an option; it’s an essential recruitment and retention strategy that organizations need to hitch their wagon to. It’s essentially a win-win for both employer and employee, because it creates a happier, more dynamic, and more productive workforce. If you haven’t considered offering flexible work options, isn’t it time you did?

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