Attract and Retain a Robust Talent Pool With Workplace Flexibility
The Wall Street Journal’s recent article “The Job Market Is Tighter Than You Think” didn’t break any news to HR executives.
Employers find themselves in a vastly different hiring climate than they did even a few short months ago. The past paradigm of many candidates being available for a single job opportunity has now completely shifted to one in which many job opportunities are available for a single candidate. Candidates are being more and more selective about opportunities, and hiring is getting that much harder.
To compete for top candidates, it’s time to get serious about how to attract and retain a more robust, diverse talent pool. There’s one really effective way to do it: offer workplace flexibility.
I’m not talking about allowing employees to use PTO to take a Friday off, occasionally saying “yes” to employees leaving work for a personal obligation, or giving employees the chance to work remotely from time to time. I’m talking about permanent workplace flexibility that is built into the job, the environment, and the company culture. I’m talking about flexibility that is the rule and not the exception.
The pandemic has been a hiring game-changer. Before the pandemic, the importance of flexibility was already on the rise. Now that there’s real-world proof that remote work and flexible work schedules have not negatively impacted productivity — and in many cases have increased it — the case for workplace flexibility has gotten even stronger. Employees have developed a taste for it. In fact, nearly two-thirds of employees want the flexibility to work from home in a post-pandemic world.
11 Workplace Flexibility Benefits for Employers
The top workplace flexibility benefit for employers is the ability to attract and retain a robust, diverse talent pool. To stay competitive in today’s hiring market, it’s a must-have. Flexibility even trumps salary.
According to LinkedIn’s March 2021 Workforce Confidence Survey, the pandemic changed the way employees think about work, making freedom and personal control more vital than money, perks, or titles. Flexibility is not only the most important factor for job seekers, it’s also the fastest-rising priority across all four main workplace generations from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. Interestingly, flexibility came in as the #1 workplace flexibility benefit among 50 percent of LinkedIn survey respondents. While 45 percent ranked work-life balance a close second — and the two are inextricably linked. What about pay? It came in 4th at just 36 percent.
Flexibility is the way to win today’s hiring battles. Let’s look at the full list of 11 workplace flexibility benefits for employers, which of course are centered in attracting and retaining talent:
- Attract top talent: top candidates know what they want and can afford to be choosy
- Create a deeper talent pool: generate more interest from more candidates
- Appeal to more diverse candidates: open up opportunities to working mothers and caretakers, people with disabilities, those with health and transportation challenges, military spouses, those pursuing advanced education goals, and more
- Retain top talent: reduce flight risk by strengthening loyalty and ensuring the grass isn’t greener somewhere else
- Increase job satisfaction: better work-life balance creates happier and more fulfilled employees who want to stay
- Improve productivity: performance goes up when employees are able to work when they have the most energy and focus
- Minimize workforce gaps: less turnover means fewer gaps in key roles, which can impact everything from morale to KPIs
- Lower workplace stress: employees have significantly less stress when they have more focus, more productivity, and more work-life balance
- Reduce costs: better retention saves recruiting costs, remote work saves on office space, and happier, healthier employees save on healthcare costs
- Decrease absenteeism and tardiness: when work and life are in better balance, employees can more easily manage responsibilities and demands in both places
- Boost brand awareness: stand out from the competition — or, at the very least, stand side by side with them
Why does workplace flexibility work? Flexibility sends a powerful message to candidates and employees that the company cares. It cares about their time, their work-life balance, their health and well-being. It cares about them as a person, not just as an employee. More than cared for, employees feel appreciated and they feel valued. This message resonates more today than ever before.
Workplace Flexibility Is Not One-Size-Fits-All
Good news: Workplace flexibility is flexible!
Workplace flexibility doesn’t have to be one-size-fits all, and it shouldn’t be. Flexible work as a benefit can mean many things to employers as well as employees. Even the U.S. Department of Labor creates an open door with its definition of “flexible work schedule” as anything alternative to the traditional 9-to-5, 40-hour work week.
This means employers have the power to choose what workplace flexibility means for their company, what will work best in their unique environments, and what will best resonate with their unique groups of employees to deliver the most value and impact.
Workplace flexibility options to consider:
- Full-Time Remote Work: work off-site 100% of the time
- Hybrid Remote Work: blend on-site and off-site work time
- Compressed Work Week: work 40 hours in fewer than 5 days
- Flex Time: employees set their own start and end times
- Workday Shift: employers alter the workday’s start and end times
- Reduced Hours: employees work less than 40 hours
- Reduced Travel: minimize employee travel with virtual meetings
What works best is different by company and by industry. The goal is finding what adds the most value for both employee and employer. When looking at how to attract and retain a more robust, diverse talent pool with workplace flexibility, it is possible to balance the needs of employees and the needs of the business — it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
How To Get Started with Workplace Flexibility
In July 2018 Forbes declared the strict 9-to-5 workday “outdated” in an article recapping Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends study that revealed permanent workplace flexibility was a top desire for employees. If the 9-to-5 workday was outdated 3 years ago, it’s completely stale today emerging from the pandemic.
To make workplace flexibility a reality, start with an internal assessment of how and where flexibility is already working in the company, and how that can be maintained or expanded going forward. Consider where changes can or should be made. Survey employee groups to find out what they want and what would be most meaningful to them. Research the industry and candidates’ fields specifically to determine where to up the workplace flexibility game to be — and stay — competitive.
Companies may have to experiment to determine what works best for their businesses, their employees, and their cultures. The most important thing is to get started! Because while workplace flexibility isn’t a new strategy to attract and retain a more robust, diverse talent pool, it is the new gold standard — and is fast-becoming yet another new normal.
Do you have the right people in place to get you where you want to go? To find out how Fahrenheit can help you assess and implement workplace flexibility benefits to attract and retain top talent, contact us today. Our team of seasoned, C-level executives and consultants can accelerate your progress and help you overcome challenges to find the straightest path forward.
about the author
Tammie Hayden brings more than 16 years of recruiting experience with small organizations and Fortune 500 companies. She utilizes Fahrenheit’s customized recruiting approach to find the best fit for candidates and companies by understanding a client’s business, industry, and culture and sourcing open positions within an established network of qualified candidates. These strong relationships allow Tammie to identify top candidates and make the perfect match for long term success