Are you losing talent due to an inflexible work environment?

about 4 years ago by Wendy Donovan

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The answer is definitely yes. I am seeing this happen at the coal face of recruiting everyday.

It was only recently that a prime candidate  decided to withdraw from a job due to the the lack of flexibility that was made available by the employer. In the end it was a lose/lose situation - if the employer had been willing to rethink the flexibility landscape then the candidate  would have been shortlisted, and ultimately have been rewarded with the position. I’ve also seen the case, at the later stage of negotiations, when an employer doesn’t live up to their “flexible working policy” mantra  and a preferred candidates ends up walking away from the offer. 

There is no doubt that flexibility at work is a global talent trend,  and the scales have tipped with candidates having the power to pick and choose employers in the marketplace. In a recent global workplace study involving 155 countries, improving productivity is going to have to happen, by working towards an employee centred workplace.

As an employer of choice then, you need to be offering flexible working arrangements as a necessity and more than just part-time or job-sharing options. But what  is flexibility? It means different things for different people,  coming in lots of shapes and sizes these days. Gone are the days where it is just about unconventional hours or working from home occasionally.

Flexible work arrangements don’t just benefit employees, and what candidates are now looking for is beyond the part-time options and job sharing scenarios….. 

Remote working – this is the situation where work is performed entirely away from the office and a great option if a business wants to widen their available candidate pool. Particularly when a specific skillset is scarce in the local market. In fact as you dont need to be in the office for this type of work, it could be a candidate anywhere around the world within reason. When recruiting for candidate scarce markets this is definitely an option to consider, as it opens your talent pool to include caretakers, people with disabilities and rural/remote locations. Videoconferencing and consistent communication is key to making this work. 

Telecommuting – this is the situation where an employee comes into the office semi regularly. It’s more than likely looks like 2-3 days in the office out of a 5 day working week. The rise of the Digital Nomad is working mobile and coming into the office when required, allowing for greater productivity and creativity. 

Condensed working weeks – typically this is gaining more popularity  and presents itself by working your entire work week in 4 days and having Friday’s off. This is difficult to do for an entire team or company though, however it does make for happy and healthier employees who are more productive, and likely to stay longer in the role. 

Customised working hours – is a great option within reason. Some people are “morning people”, some have more energy late at night or maybe you need to manage school drop-off or avoid busy commuting hours. Offering flexible starting times from 6am to 10am works well with many of the businesses we work with, allowing you to widen your candidate pool and cultivate happier employees. Productivity and wellness flourishes when these options can be opened up in workplaces, as well secure loyalty in your workplace. 

Flexible holidays – Unlimited paid time off  is a fast growing trend particularly in competitive markets . Whilst it helps to focus  employees on productivity and goal oriented outcomes at work, increasing productivity and efficiencies - it also has potential to be abused and may not work for every business.  Rather than offering all employees unlimited paid time off, there are other options to consider.  Some businesses are offering additional leave that is “paid” and typically this might widen your standard 4 weeks to 6 or 8 weeks each year. Another option is to offer additional paid leave as an incentive, that might be linked to KPI’s being achieved or it may increase in time over the years of service, increasing loyalty. 

In summing up, strong flexible work policies can be a true differentiator when it comes to brand awareness, and it may just be the thing that sets your company apart  from the competition attracting and retaining the best talent.