We’ve been hearing a lot about workplace flexibility because work/life balance is much more complicated in today’s always-connected technology world. The idea of disconnecting from work after you head home to be with your family is not realistic anymore since business is 24/7 instead of 9-to-5.
In order to learn more about how both HR professionals and employees feel about workplace flexibility, and how companies are reacting, we partnered with CareerArc, a global recruitment and outplacement firm, to conduct a new study. We found that nearly half (45 percent) of employees feel that they don’t have enough time each week to do personal activities and 20 percent spend over 20 hours working outside the office per week. This is a major red flag since employees who don’t have personal time tend to be less motivated and unhappy.
As mentioned, technology is part of the problem, not the solution to work-life balance. It has forced everyone to “always be on-call” regardless of date or time. Previous surveys have found that employees are answering email on vacations and after 11 p.m., when they used to have off-time during those periods. We found that 65 percent of employees say that their manager expects them to be reachable outside of the office by either email or phone. Nearly the same amount (54 percent) of HR professionals say that they expect their employee to be reachable then as well. There’s more pressure on HR today, than ever before, to have workplace flexibility programs in place in order to support employees who are dealing with these balance concerns, and job seekers who are starting to select companies that have these programs.
Last year, of the companies that knew how much they invested in their work-life benefits programs, 60 percent spent under $20,000 and 29 percent spent more than $40,000. More than half (53 percent) of these companies plan to invest more in their programs in 2015. In our survey, employees even ranked workplace flexibility as the most important benefit that they desire. Those companies that have strong flexibility programs in place are already seeing real tangible benefits. The top benefits organizations saw in their programs were improved employee satisfaction (87 percent), increased productivity (71 percent), and that they retained current talent (65 percent). 69 percent use their programs as a recruiting tool and 54 percent said that they have positively impacted their recruiting efforts.
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In order to be a relevant employer in 2015 and beyond, companies have to get serious about workplace flexibility. Managers should be more lenient and supportive of employees who want personal lives outside of work. Employees who speak up if their work is infringing on their personal life. Both employees and employers should come together to create programs that are mutually beneficial for each other.