Offering millennials work flexibility acts not only as a strategy to avoid negative consequences like losing talent, but also as an incentive for employers that stand to gain a lot by modifying their strict, traditional, office-based models of working.
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Workplace flexibility, work-life balance, and salary are the top three factors employees consider when evaluating a job prospect. According to a survey from job search site FlexJobs, travel also ranks as a surprisingly popular motivator for why people work: 70 percent of millennials cited the desire to travel as a primary reason to work, second only to paying for necessities. Gen. X respondents positioned travel as the fourth most important reason for working, and boomers rated travel fifth in importance.
Millennials Place High Value on Workplace Flexibility
"Since millennials are now the largest generation in the US labor workforce, it's critical that companies pay attention to how, where, and when they work best," says Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. "Eighty-two percent of millennials said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options and nearly a quarter would be willing to work more hours."
Incorporating workplace flexibility into job offers may even help companies entice new talent.
"From the surveys we've done of millennials and flexible work, it's not so much that they want their jobs to include travel such as traditional business trips to meet clients," says Sutton Fell. "It's that they want to be able to travel and still do their jobs."
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Therefore, a company might want to focus on showing that its employees can perform their jobs from outside the office, even just occasionally – whether that means working from home, working on a road trip, or even working from another country.
A Variety of Work Options = a Desirable Work-Life Balance
Maintaining work flexibility allows a company to bolster its employee retention rates. If employers offer a variety of flexible work options, each generation will be able to use the flexibility that is right for them given their work-life balance needs.
FlexJobs created a roundup of sample flexible work policies to show companies how other organizations have put together their programs. PwC is a great example because it offers seven types of "formal flexibility" as part of its flexible work program.
"Of course, not all of these types will work for every company," states Sutton Fell. "But it's important for companies to offer several options to accommodate the needs of all generations in their workplaces."
Salaries Remain Competitive With Flexible Jobs
"There isn't much of a difference in pay for a flexible job versus a traditional job when comparing similar jobs," says Sutton Fell. "Whether that flexibility is telecommuting or flexible scheduling, the pay rates are very similar."
One difference surfaces in how companies approach paying people based on geographic location because different areas of the country pay differently for the same positions. Pay scale comes into play with remote work in particular. Some companies assign the pay range of a position based on where the employee works – for example, someone working remotely in New York City might command a higher salary than someone working remotely from Cleveland. Other companies assign the pay range based on where the headquarters of the company reside. Still others choose an average pay range for all of their positions regardless of location.
Flexibility Benefits Employers Too
It's not just employees who benefit from flexibility. Companies with flexible work programs see reduced turnover, improved productivity, reduced real estate and operating costs, smaller carbon footprints, and more satisfied workers.
In particular, hiring at-home workers allows organizations to expand into new territories without opening up expensive offices. For recruiters and managers, telecommuting helps them tap into new candidate pools to find the best talent regardless of location.
When companies allow professionals the ability to work from home (occasionally, often, or all the time), or to have flexible schedules, or to have part-time options, it sends several important messages about the company's culture:
- That the company trusts its employees to be responsible, even when employees work outside the office.
- That the company wants its employees to have the freedom to do what they need to do when work and life intersect.
- That the company values a person's contributions to the company more than it values their face-time in the office
When done well, flexible work options create a culture rooted in trust and freedom, a valuable incentive for employees and employers alike.