Flexible work aids recruitmentSunday October 19, 2014 Written by Brandi Cowen
With most flexible work arrangements proving to be successful, employer-offered flex options are poised to increase substantially over the next five years.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), three-quarters of human resource professionals from organizations offering compressed workweeks, flex time, job sharing, break arrangements, shift flexibility, phased retirement and other flexible work arrangements have found these options to be successful.
Of the two-fifths of respondents who offer telecommuting (39 per cent), one-quarter (26 per cent) said the practice increased productivity of employees and one-third (32 per cent) said the absenteeism rates of those who telecommute decreased.
Positive impact in the workplace
HR professionals also reported that flexible work arrangements have a positive impact on their organizations. More than one-half of respondents said flexibility had a positive impact on attracting and retaining employees. Respondents also reported positive impacts on employee turnover, absenteeism rates, productivity, quality of employees’ work, quality of employee’s personal life, employee health, company culture, company public image, and employee morale and job satisfaction.
When asked what makes flexible arrangements work, HR professionals ranked buy-in from top management, commitment from employees, and a supportive organizational culture as very important.
“HR professionals in these findings made a strong case for the use of flexible work arrangements,” said Lisa Horn, director of SHRM’s Workplace Flexibility Initiative. “The positive impacts to recruitment, retention, productivity, morale and the quality of work suggest that adopting these practices could benefit many employees and employers.”
The future of flexible work
Employee requests for flexible work arrangements increased in the past year, one-third of HR professionals (32 per cent) reported. Respondents were most likely to report that about one-quarter of their workforce currently uses each of the flexible arrangements offered.
The vast majority of respondents said telecommuting (83 per cent) and other flexible work arrangements (89 per cent) would be more prevalent in the next five years. But less than one-half said a larger portion of their workforce would be likely or very likely to telecommute (39 per cent) or become eligible for flexible options (48 per cent) in the next five years.
“Flexible work arrangements are an important part of an effective workplace and contribute to employee job satisfaction, retention and health. But workforce culture could be a barrier preventing employees from taking advantage of these arrangements,” said Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs. “The role of managers is central to the success of flexible work arrangements. Managers need to work with HR to communicate to employees what options are available and how they benefit the goals of both employees and the organization.”
The survey polled 525 HR professionals between April and June 2014. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus four per cent.