Knowing what workers want is key to successfully attracting and retaining top talent. And when it comes to Millennials, flexibility often tops their list. Flexibility can of course mean many things:
- the ability to work remotely
- being able to pick and choose hours
- starting later or finishing earlier
- job sharing
- opting for part-time work over full-time work, or
- condensing a five-day working week into four.
Flexible working has become a fundamental part of the modern workplace. Providing employees with flexible work arrangements can be critical to retention, yet for most employers, it costs nothing to offer.
Having arrangements where you allow employees to start work later, or go home earlier to pick up the kids from school, gives your employees the opportunity to fit work around their other commitments.
This level of freedom is often more important to an employee with parental responsibilities than getting the next pay rise. In fact, when employees have the flexibility to attend to personal matters when needed, it’s more likely they’ll readily work longer hours or overtime when required.
For others, it’s being able to take advantage of technology and globalisation to work from home or elsewhere. Not only do they avoid the commute every day, but this trust to work away from the office engenders greater commitment which is key to greater happiness at work.
5 big wins for business owners
As a manager, if you can’t trust your employees to work when you can’t look over their shoulder to check on them, you have to ask why you hired them in the first place?
When you hire people who are engaged by their work and believe in your company’s mission, you should be able to trust them to do their work from anywhere.
While the employee benefits of flexible working are easy to see, there is also a considerable upside for employers.
- When you don’t need to house all your employees on site, you can make significant savings in real estate rental, as well as power and other day-to-day operating costs.
- Even if you own your own office space, by freeing up some of your floor space you can earn additional income through leasing.
- Offering flexibility often translates into higher retention levels. Employees find it’s harder to leave a job that offers a work-life balance, even when faced with a promotion or the inducement of more money.
- And of course, when your employees don’t have to work on site, you don’t have to recruit from a local talent pool. This means you can look further afield to find exactly the right person with the right skill-set to fill those vacant positions.
- As more people choose different options for greater work-life balance, many skilled workers are choosing to work part-time over full-time. As a business owner or manager, you can benefit from getting the skilled help you need but without having to a pay full-time salary. For example, your business may be able to afford the services of a CFO three days per week, whereas hiring that person full time would be out of the question.
More hours worked by part-timers
Reflecting the shift to flexible workplaces, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, shows that over the past year, full-time employment decreased by 21,200 in Australia, while people in part-time employment increased by 122,000.
While there’s an upward trend estimate in the monthly hours worked in all jobs, the hours worked by part-time workers (around 0.8 million hours), was larger than the hours worked by full-time workers (around 0.4 million hours).
Overall, the hours worked increased by 1.2 million hours in February 2017, to 1,671.5 million hours.
A workplace right
While offering flexible work practices makes good business sense, it’s ingrained into the fabric of the Australian workplace as a cornerstone of the National Employment Standards.
Employees who have worked with the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements if they:
- are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
- are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
- have a disability (and are qualified for a disability support pension under the Social Security Act 1991)
- are 55 or older
- are experiencing family or domestic violence, or
- provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence.
It’s important to note that this is a right to request flexibility – rather than an absolute right to be given. Employers can refuse if there are reasonable business grounds. And not all jobs allow for a great deal of flexibility. Whole days working from home are just not an option for workers on assembly lines, in retail or hospitality roles, or in hands-on healthcare occupations.
For more tips on how to attract and retain top talent, read our Culture Whitepaper.
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