Gone are the days of enticing people back to the office with catered meals and ping-pong tables. Today, employees are looking for benefits like flexibility. With employee preferences changing, you will have to get creative about which perks and benefits your company offers.
It’s been dubbed the “perk-cession.” Major companies are beginning to pull back on the return-to-office benefits they offered during and after the height of the pandemic. Yet workers seem to be unfazed by a loss of catered meals, free dry cleaning, and specialty coffee baristas.
As it turns out, employees want flexibility — not book allowances, wellness retreats, or paid birthdays off. While those things are fun, employees are more concerned with the long-term benefits of a flexible workspace. In fact, 87% of individuals will opt for flexible working options when they’re made available, and this trend has even spread to frontline workers. Those who have never experienced a huge degree of flexibility in the past are now demanding it.
This might not be news to you, especially if you’ve been following the latest working trends. However, you might be confused as to what “flexibility” means. What are workers who value flexibility really asking for? Is it flexible working office space? Flexible hours? Flexible career growth? Let’s take a look at the trends.
What Flex-Focused Employees Are Really Asking For
When it comes to the topic of workplace flexibility, working arrangements are a primary consideration. According to the “2023 Monster Work Watch Report,” 49% of professionals want to be able to choose where they work. This doesn’t necessarily mean they all want to work from home, though. Plenty of people are open to the idea of working in an off-site co-working hybrid office space that’s close to where they live but includes the privacy and amenities of a corporate workplace. Employees are also craving the connection and networking opportunities that come with hybrid work and co-working spaces. Employees who strictly work from home often experience dissatisfaction from a lack of connection with others. Some co-working spaces even offer curated group coaching to facilitate connection between members.
Flexibility isn’t just about the “where” that work is done. It’s also about the “how” and the “when.” As such, interest has risen in four-day workweeks, part-time job sharing, and other creative working setups. The goal? Focusing on efficiency so workers have more time for their personal lives. Employees are tired of the high levels of burnout they’re still experiencing even years after COVID-19.
Make no mistake: Despite phenomena like the Great Resignation and the quiet quitting movement, talented and driven people do want to work. High performers are especially interested in pursuing careers, with 74% eager to continuously up their skill sets. They just don’t want to sacrifice their health in exchange.
Flex-focused employees have a greater interest in environmental, social, and corporate governance initiatives than ever before. According to IBM, 69% of the full potential workforce — which includes people who are employed full- or part-time, unemployed and seeking employment, or full-time students or apprentices — say they’re more likely to accept jobs with companies they consider to be environmentally sustainable. This could include offering eco-friendly office spaces, promoting recycling and waste reduction, or supporting green commuting options such as bike racks and public transportation subsidies. These days, employees are looking for flexibility in their employer’s mindset toward social responsibility.
How to Provide Cost-Effective Flexibility for Your Team
The point here is simple: If you want to keep your team satisfied, you need to figure out how to provide flexibility in a way that doesn’t cost you your bottom line. To begin, try the following strategies to help you create workplace schedules and environments that suit the needs of your employees.
- Survey your workforce.
Rather than make life harder on yourself, make it easier by conducting surveys or setting up feedback sessions with your teams. That way, you can better gauge their preferences and desires regarding flexibility and benefits.
To get the best possible feedback, make sure your surveys and sessions are designed to get the most information you can regarding how your employees view flexibility. Take remote or hybrid work, for instance. Research from 2023 shows that almost 31% of workers want to be able to work from anywhere five days a week, while around 16% are satisfied with working remotely just two or three days a week. Where do your employees fall on this continuum? The only way to know is to ask and move forward appropriately.
By directly involving employees in the decision-making process, you can gain valuable insights and offer tailored perks that are actually meaningful, such as wellness benefits or co-working perks. You can also put plans in place that take into account the desires of all stakeholders.
- Stay on the frontline of perk-related trends.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in — you can be sure it’s changing. As a new generation comes into the workforce, demographics are shifting. Your company should be able to shift accordingly, right down to the benefits you provide.
Remember: Different generations and employee segments will have different workplace perk preferences and priorities. Mid-career Millennials might be more inclined to value promotional and mentoring opportunities. Younger workers just starting out might prefer more childcare support. And a significant number of employees across all generations might be happy to trade a raise for the empowerment of flexible work arrangements.
Staying on top of trends enables you to make informed choices moving forward. Plus, you won’t feel like you’re the last to know when it comes to emerging, innovative benefits that are working for your competitors.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your benefits.
Once you put benefits in motion, you need to track them. Otherwise, you won’t know if they’re assets or just eating up your budget.
The simplest way to make this happen is to implement feedback mechanisms. For example, you may want to assign measurable metrics to your benefits. This allows you to collect data that can be analyzed routinely. Evaluation is essential for both continuous improvement and corporate financial stewardship. As a bonus, when you’re keeping tabs, you can avoid surprises and make pivots quickly.
Understanding your employees isn’t always an easy task. Even so, defining what “flexibility” means to your people is essential to keep your workforce moving forward without overspending or losing top talent.
Written by Ary Krivopisk.
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