Answering Employer's Toughest Challenges: Adopting Flexible Workplace Practices


By Kathleen Laney - May 6, 2015

One of the greatest challenges companies and organizations of all types and sizes face is attracting and retaining game-changing, forward thinking talent. Over the next few months I will be publishing a series of postings discussing ways employers and HR professionals can manage this very real issue.  Today’s post will review popular and emerging workplace practices that can help make your organization a place where top talent wants to work.

In developing such practices, employers should consider the values and goals of their current talent and as well as the values and goals of prospective employees. With the increasing competition for talent with in-demand skills, creating workplace policies and practices that speak to the values of your employee base can give you a competitive edge.

One of the most popular flexible workplace practices is allowing employees to work remotely from their home.  According to the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, between 2005 and 2012 the number of people who work remotely increased 79 percent bringing the US total for people working remotely (not self-employed or contract workers) to 3.3 million making up 2.6 percent of the entire US employee workforce. 

Studies show that on a whole giving employees the ability to have flexible workplace options, employee productivity and satisfaction increase as do sales and revenue while costs go down.  A study conducted by Stanford Professor of Economics Nicholas Bloom found that remote employees worked 9.5 percent longer and were 13 percent more productive than their in-office colleagues. In a follow-up post I will discuss some of the strategies an employer and HR professionals can take to manage the nuances and challenges of managing a remote workforce.

Other types of innovative workplace practices include:

  1.  Flex-time – Employee chooses starting and quitting time;
  2. Compressed work week – Longer work days but four day workweek;
  3. Flex-arrangements – Remote or alternative work locations;
  4. Work sharing and job sharing – Positions or work responsibilities are shared by employees;  
  5. Career flexibility – Expanded leave, sabbaticals, reduced responsibilities, phased retirement.

It is important to understand that while flexible work programs have many advantages, some of these practices can have a negative impact on businesses or present challenges that a business has to address. Business owners and managers must recognize that flexible work arrangements are not always appropriate for all people, jobs, or industries.

What workplace practices are you using to help attract and retain your top talent?

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