Redefining Workplace Flexibility

November 04, 2020

Workplace flexibility is no longer a nice-to-have but a must. Learn how today’s leading organizations are approaching flexibility in the workplace.

Blog Post

In a world that’s been turned upside down by COVID-19, what passed as “flexibility” for the offices of yesteryear (a few remote workdays, maybe somewhat flexible start times) almost certainly won’t work for today’s workers.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, employees were demanding a stronger focus on life. And now that working in the office may be on-again, off-again for the foreseeable future, organizations must determine what keeps workers around, happy, and engaged in this new world.

“Companies will need to rethink their operating model based on how their people work best,” point out Kevin Sneader and Bob Sternfels of McKinsey. And as Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte points out, flexibility is a core tenant of providing a positive work environment and becoming an irresistible organization.

So, What Do Employees Want, Anyway?

In addition to flexible measures like remote work becoming necessary for many organizations to keep their workers safe and healthy, a recent Fuze survey revealed how employees, themselves, feel about flexibility:

  • 54% of employees would be willing to move to another company if it meant having more flexibility
  • 89% of workers feel flexible work should be standard, not a benefit
  • 57% of workers would prefer a job with no set hours
  • 77% of workers want the chance to work outside the office during the week

What’s more, employees want to engage in flexible continuing education opportunities, with 94% of workers reporting they’d stay with their companies longer if the organization invested in their development. However, many employees reporting they don’t engage in workplace learning because they feel they don’t have time to do so.

So whether it’s when and where people work — or more bespoke approaches to employee learning and development — it’s clear that to attract and keep the best talent, every aspect of what HR does in the modern organization must not only consider, but work to actively support employees’ wellbeing and work-life balance.

Below we explore ways today’s leading companies are providing the flexibility their employees demand.

Flexibility Around Mobility and Employee Self-Service

Today, employees are looking for more from their employers than a paycheck. They’re looking for help managing all areas of their work lives quickly and efficiently.

“True workplace mobility is not confined to devices and apps; it is also inclusive of different working preferences, including when and where employees choose to work,” writes Jed Brown of Forbes. “To retain and compete for talent in the increasingly mobile economy, businesses may need to rethink both the traditional office setting and the typical work schedule.”

In other words, organizations need to empower their employees to get their work done in the places and at the times that are most convenient for them, which for a growing number of employees, means outside the office. But to make that a truly viable option, organizations must tap into an always-on, mobile-enabled approach to the workplace.

Employee self-service is how a growing number of today’s leading organizations are meeting employees where they are. Just like HR professionals, employees don’t want to waste their time sifting through paperwork or chasing down their HR representative to accomplish basic tasks like updating their banking information. The good news? Most, if not all of this can now be done through today’s mobile-enabled HR software.

“If your organization is seeking to embrace workforce mobility, invest in the proper infrastructure to make it a reality. This includes mobile communication tools that enable workers to feel connected and engaged regardless of where they are working.” writes Jed Brown of Forbes.

From easy access to benefits to learning opportunities, early access to wages, performance reviews, and more, employees are empowered by today’s HR and payroll solutions to get access to what they need, when they need it.

Flexibility Around Performance, Learning, and Development

A full 68% of employees want to learn while they’re at work, and 49% prefer to learn when it's necessary to improve their skills for their role. This is where making flexible solutions, like customized, bite-sized learning opportunities, accessible to employees via mobile — and driven by your own subject matter experts — can make a huge difference in finding and retaining the best talent.

But the desire for development doesn’t end at self-driven learning opportunities. Younger workers crave a meaningful coaching relationship with their supervisors. In fact, 56% of employees say they would take a manager-suggested course. Additionally, the Association for Talent Development found that 60% of employees engaged in a strong coaching culture are highly engaged, and 80% of employees who have gotten coaching experience positive impacts, including:

  • Better work performance
  • Better business management strategies
  • Enhanced communication skills
  • Higher productivity
  • Improved well-being

Indeed, investing in performance management benefits both your employees and your organization. Today’s tools offer tons of opportunities to provide the flexibility your employees crave, including transparent, two-way communication, and personalized video feedback.

Flexibility Around Payday

A growing trend among leading organizations is flexibility around access to earned wages — and with good reason.

Imagine this: Payday is a week away, but your car won’t start. You need your car to get to work, pick up the kids, and buy groceries. If you don’t get paid until next Friday — and you’re among the majority of Americans who are not in a place to handle a $1,000 emergency expense — you’ll either have to swipe your credit card, ask a relative for a loan, or worse, get a payday loan to get you through.

But what if you could simply tap into a mobile app to get access to the half of the paycheck you’ve already earned that hasn’t been paid out yet? This is the direction many leading organizations have already gone, implementing on-demand payment as a way to provide additional flexibility to their employees.

“People want speed and convenience when it comes to transactions,” writes Gwen Moran of FastCompany — and the same is true for employees and their paychecks. “Such flexibility can offer employers a way for employees to better manage cash flow and also be a useful novelty in attracting new talent.”

The Business Benefits of Flexibility

Beyond keeping workers safe and healthy in the midst of a pandemic, workplace flexibility has the potential to support ambitious and long-term organizational initiatives, save on operational costs, and enhance ROI by reducing turnover and improving employee engagement.

“The potential benefits of workplace variability are numerous,” writes Scott Behson of the Harvard Business Review, including “increased morale, motivation, and the ability to attract and retain talent.”

In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management conducted a massive study on the business benefits of flexibility, and found that workplace flexibility has been linked to a number of positive outcomes, including:

  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Expanded availability to clients
  • An enhanced ability to attract and retain highly skilled employees
  • Employee loyalty, engagement and improved performance
  • Reduction in absenteeism, injuries, distractions, and turnover
  • Cost savings on real estate and overhead

Indeed, organizations that lean into providing flexibility realize outcomes that don’t just benefit their workers, but their bottom lines and employer brands.

Beyond Remote Work: Equipping Your Organization for True Flexibility

When it comes to truly giving your workers what they want and need, flexibility must go beyond simply providing flex hours, a laptop, and a few remote workdays. For companies to thrive, they must meet workers where they are by exercising flexibility through both their policies and technologies, including mobility and mobile-enabled initiatives.

“While it has yet to be precisely determined what the new normal will look like for businesses once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, prepare yourselves for a new mode of work that welcomes greater flexibility and fosters increased mobility across the workforce,” advises Forbes’s Jed Brown.

Ready to help your organization realize its true potential for flexibility? Start by downloading our free Navigating the Buying Process for HR and Payroll Solutions Guide, or contact a solutions expert to get a tour of Paylocity in action and determine the best solution for your organization’s unique needs.

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