Through many years of experience and countless conversations with employees and job-seekers, I’ve concluded that people have a set of foundational needs when it comes to working. And I’m going to share that theory with you today.
No matter the industry, every employee has four to six fundamental needs from a job. We all have our own needs, but after researching this for years, I’ve found that I hear the same things over and over.
Hey, employers— can you guess what I hear the most? You should not be surprised that flexibility is one of the top needs. It all comes down to people having more control over how their time is spent.
As a business owner or leader, building flexibility into your workplace should be a top concern for you right now. If your company is not offering flexibility in regards to schedules or hybrid/remote environments, you risk falling behind your competition.
5 ways to have flexibility at work
As an employer, here are the five main avenues for you to introduce flexibility in the workplace:
- Allow your employees to have control over their schedules
- Create opportunities for employees that want to work part-time, not just full-time
- Find ways to squish work time— whether that means four 10-hour days, three 12-hour shifts: ways that allow people to have more than just a weekend off
- Job shares that will enable two people to do the work of one full-time job
- Hybrid or fully remote environments so people can physically be where they want to be
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. How can we make these things happen? All 5 are doable solutions that will greatly impact your company’s work culture and your employees’ satisfaction.
1. Flexibility of schedules
Honestly, it blows my mind that many leaders are still not doing this. It’s 2022, people! Isn’t it time that we trust our employees?
Setting clear expectations about your employees’ schedules is key. What are the goals and outcomes you’re working towards? If you set those expectations, you can leave the rest to your team. That will be empowering for both productivity and morale.
In my experience, when companies struggle with employees setting their own schedules, it’s actually because of two foundational issues: 1) Lack of trust from the leadership and 2) Unclear expectations— your people just don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing.
2. Part-time opportunities
Here’s a pro-tip: part-time workers are incredible.
Truly, I can’t emphasize enough how overlooked this workforce segment is. In my 10+ years of experience in the HR space, I’ve seen more productivity from part-time workers and highly recommend you consider the benefits for your organization.
There’s an entire pool of highly-qualified workers out there— with higher education degrees, years of work experience, and excellent references— who are falling through the cracks because they simply don’t want a full-time position. They want something more flexible!
In the age of The Great Resignation, and when hiring continues to be one of the top HR issues of 2022, don’t let yourself overlook this talented group of individuals. And if you’re not sure how to navigate changing a full-time role into a part-time position, we can help.
3. Job sharing
Okay, this one might sound a little complicated, but humor me.
Job sharing is when two part-time employees work together to fulfill the responsibilities of one full-time job description. For job sharing to work, both individuals simply need to be able to handle the job as well as one person. Sure, it might be a little complicated in the initial stages and onboarding process, but when this works, it really works—and the results are incredible.
We’ve seen job sharing naturally boost morale and productivity through the collaboration and increased communication that’s inherently involved. It’s also a great way to recruit new team members while retaining current employees.
4. Squish things up
Depending on your company and industry, “squished” or compressed work schedules could give your team members the flexibility they desire with a structured schedule.
The most common type of compressed schedule is called a “4/10,” which means you work four, 10-hour days. Why would anyone want to do that? More weekends! Employees get to enjoy Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off.
Of course, there are pros and cons to any type of “squishing” when it comes to the work week, and this solution won’t work for every organization. In particular, when considering this solution, be wary of the burnout that can result from long shifts with repetitive responsibilities.
The key is figuring out what best fits YOUR organization. What do your employees want? If you don’t know… just ask them!
Some people prefer to work for long periods, while others thrive with short bursts. Compressed schedules could interfere with family or lifestyle obligations or significantly improve them.
It all starts with a conversation with your team.
5. Hybrid and remote options with core hours
At Turning the Corner, we’ve always had what people are now calling “hybrid” work options.
For us, hybrid relates to both flexibility of schedule and flexibility to work in the office and at home.
We structure our work week around core hours where people are available for meetings (virtual and in-person), and the rest of each person’s time is flexible— structured around their lives, their individual needs, and what helps them be most productive.
Google’s doing it—in fact, all the major Big Six tech companies have had some form of a hybrid work policy in place since COVID-19 started shaking up the workplace, and continue to embrace flexible options.
It’s all about trust
It’s been a theme throughout this post, but I have to reiterate that like other flexible solutions, hybrid options require one thing above all else to succeed: TRUST. In particular, trust from leadership.
Your employees are good people— they want to earn their paycheck. They want to reach goals and help your organization succeed. If you trust your team to still get things done while working when and where they want, they’ll do it.
I’m just going to say it: If you walk around thinking your employees are out there to take advantage of you or skate by, there are some greater issues to work through in your approach to leadership first.
It can take a lot to lose the old preconceptions about how the workplace, well … used to work. But things are different now. So let’s talk about it.
The Great Resignation and hiring crisis is not going anywhere anytime soon. In 2022, even more, people are re-evaluating what is important to them and all the little things they can stand to lose, like commuting, paying for parking, paying for childcare— the list goes on and on. If you’re not considering this a top HR concern, you will continue to lose valuable team members.
Here’s the bright side: If your company is already providing flexibility and your competitors are not, your hiring pipeline just got bigger! You should know those employees are absolutely going to be looking for new jobs.