Every company talks big when it comes to offering flexibility, but the reality is that the options for workplace flexibility are often restricted to a select few, and many team members do not take advantage of flexible options, for fear of damaging their careers. A 2014 study from the Society for Human Resources revealed that only 1-25 percent of eligible team members even used the flexibility options offered. Yet workplace flexibility is essential for fostering innovation, creativity, and engagement, and it can be critical for attracting new talent. There are measurable benefits for organizations that widely offer workplace flexibility:

  • A diverse workforce that includes more single, new, and expectant parents; more millennials; and a variety of talented people that simply will not work for businesses that do not offer the flexibility they seek.
  • Better work outcomes from team members who are less stressed, are living more balanced lives, and are able to attend to their personal needs as well as their professions.
  • More satisfied customers who benefit from the higher level of engagement, motivation, and innovation that comes from team members who are loyal to the companies that care about them as whole people.

Flexible workplaces have happier, healthier, and more engaged (and productive) team members than their more conventional, constricted counterparts. Even in the world of manufacturing and industrial organizations like oil and gas, where shifts must be filled, the ability to offer flexibility ensures better results.

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To make workplace flexibility work for your organization requires:

  • A well-defined culture that rewards results, not the time spent achieving them.
  • Immediate feedback strategies so that team members who are not continuously on-site remain connected and have every opportunity to do their best work.
  • Empowered team members who are capable of taking action even when working different hours or outside of the office, and who can make necessary, autonomous decisions to move forward.

Buy-in from leadership is essential. You must value the contribution of your team members and trust that they will achieve the results you need – whether they are in the building or not. If the mindset of the leadership team is that team members who take advantage of flexible work options are somehow less important, involved, engaged, or essential than traditional workers, you lose before you begin.

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It’s not just millennials who seek flexibility. In today’s current environment, flexibility is expected; we are living in a time in which we all live very full lives. Our work environments are no longer of the industrial era; they’ve changed dramatically. We work virtually and remotely, conduct meetings over Skype, and have altered work schedules. Workplace flexibility is no longer a perk; it is expected. What are you doing to make workplace flexibility a reality in your workplace?

As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.

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