Employees Want More Work/Life Balance

HR Trends – Employees Want More Work/Life Balance

The workplace has been encroaching on employee’s personal lives for some time now. More people are bringing work home, checking emails after hours and taking phone calls while on vacation. One of the hottest HR trends is increasing workplace flexibility. Employees want the ability to work when and where they want.

The New Workplace

One reason why the workplace is become more amorphous is the global nature of business. Your workplace may be located in Toronto but your immediate supervisor may go to work in Los Angeles. Part of the team you work with may be outsourced employees located internationally. It is easy to see that getting the team together is going to require someone to be present outside of the standard work day.

Modern communications technology has also made the workplace more flexible. Cell phones mean that employees always can take a call. Text messaging also assumes instantaneous communication. Emails can be checked in or out of the office. Employers are expecting communication with their employees 24 hours a day. Technology has provided people have the tools to get their job done from the office, their home or sipping a latte at a coffee shop.

This new workplace eats into the personal lives of employees. They are expected to attend meetings after hours and to respond to emails around the clock. It does not matter if an employee has a personal obligation. She must respond if the office calls. Forget about zumba classes, parent – teacher meetings, family dinner and other personal activities. The workplace is trumping them all. This is why workplace flexibility is one of the top new HR trends.

Recent studies show that 45% of workers feel that their personal lives suffer because of extra demands from work. 75% of employees rank workplace flexibility as a top benefit. Employers are quickly catching on: 53% of companies that have workplace flexibility programs plan to invest more in them.

Creating a Flexible Workplace

Most employees may not mind being available to when required, if they can compensate for the time in other ways. It is not that employees want to go back to the traditional work day. They want more flexibility from their employer in exchange for being in constant communication. There are a number of ways that employers can make the workplace more flexible.

  • Telecommuting: Employers can offer their workers the option of telecommuting. Some could offer this on a limited basis with most of the time spent in the office. This would allow employees to take care of appointments and errands without taking a day off. Other arrangements might be more permanent, with very little office presence required.
  • Flexible hours: Employers do not have to hold their employees to a rigid schedule. Some employees must be present to serve clients, but many need not be present at specific times. These employees could be allowed to make their own schedules.
  • Evaluate performance based on accomplishment: If an employee is getting the job done and adding value, why nickel and dime them over the hours they works. Allow flexibility, and they will get the job done.
  • Create a plan: Employers are afraid that employees will abuse these workplace flexibility programs. You can avoid this by creating a plan that specifies the ways each employee can be flexible with balancing their work and personal lives. Maintaining an ongoing dialogue with your employees about workplace flexibility creates trust and shows that you care about your employees as people.

Benefits of Workplace Flexibility

Employers will derive many benefits from implementing workplace flexibility programs. Here are just a few:

  • Employee satisfaction: When employees are able to enjoy their personal lives while meeting the expectations of the new workplace, they will be happier.
  • Increased productivity: Satisfied employees are going to be more productive. Trusting your employees with a more flexible workplace motivates them to get their jobs done in the most creative way. They are going to be more productive when they have this level of buy-in.
  • Retain Top Talent: Your best employees are going to be happy working in a flexible workplace. These top employees will want to stay on board if you offer them flexibility. When you keep the best and brightest, your company will be more profitable.

Technology is rapidly changing the nature of the modern workplace. If your company is not already thinking about workplace flexibility, it is highly likely that it will do so in the near future.