From an employee’s standpoint, work flexibility is fabulous. It allows workers to set their own schedules and better balance their professional needs with their personal ones. It offers a huge financial savings by reducing costs associated with commuting, office attire, lunches, and so on.
The same can be said for companies, too. Flexible work can save a company upwards of $11,000 per telecommuting employee (costs include a reduced or eliminated office space, office equipment, utility costs, etc). Plus, offering flex means that a company can attract, hire, and most importantly, retain, top-tier talent from anywhere in the world. Workers are happier, more productive, and the employee turnover rate is greatly reduced.
But here’s the thing: many companies that have flexible work policies are sometimes reticent to mention that in job descriptions. Worse yet, some might have a flex program in place, but their employees are not using it, for fear that their career or reputation might suffer.
The Fortune article, “Here’s How to Make Your Workplace More Flexible,” notes that a 2014 Society for Human Resources study found that only 1 percent to 25 percent of a company’s eligible workforce used the flexibility options offered to them. With companies offering flexible work but in many ways, both subtle and not-so-subtle, discouraging their staff from using it, it’s almost as if work flex doesn’t even exist at all.
Fortune’s new 50 Best Workplaces for Flexibility list is out to dispel that notion. Many companies offer flexible work options, and their employees do get to reap the benefits. Of the 50 companies that made the list, 92-94 percent offer flex and telecommuting options. A whopping 77 percent of employees do take advantage of flextime, and slightly less than half (49 percent) telecommute. That’s why nine out of ten employees report plans to grow with their companies for a long time. And workers, grateful for the flex, report that the overwhelming majority (95 percent) will do extra if it means getting the job done.
The companies that made the 50 Best Workplaces for Flexibility are as diverse as their flex programs. Some of the companies include Ryan, WellStar Health System, PwC, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Accenture, Ultimate Software, and Northstar Recycling. To make the list, companies were selected from nearly 600 Great Place to Work-certified organizations. Winners were judged by their offerings and availability of telecommuting, flextime, compressed workweeks, job sharing, and phased retirement plans, as well as the companies whose employees utilized these programs the most. Over 209,000 employees were also surveyed, reporting their day-to-day work experiences and rated their organizations on 21 varying factors, including the companies’ cultural support for work flex and work-life balance.
Case in point: Clif Bar employees enjoy paid sabbaticals and an optional 9/80 schedule. It even boasts an on-site day care and time to volunteer during work hours. And Ryan, a tax services company, allows employees to set their own schedules, functioning as a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment). Employees can reduce their workload based on their personal needs, and there’s no limit for personal time off, so long as employees are meeting their clearly defined goals.
Paul Thallner, a partner at Great Place to Work, believes that a company’s strong trust for its workers can greatly improve their performance. “But there’s often a self-limiting belief on the part of leadership that keeps them from going all-in,” Thallner said in the Fortune article. He believes that in order for work-life balance to, well, work, managers need to communicate their needs clearly. And above all: work flexibility must be available for all employees at all levels—and workers must be encouraged to use it. That’s when a company that has a flexible work program in place can consider itself victorious.
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