The end of the year is often a time for deep reflection and change. December is when we look back and celebrate or commiserate the year that was, and look forward to a fantastic new year ahead. And January is often about how we make that happen. Resolutions are made and for a lot of us forgotten. But for some, the first month of a new year is often where big plans are imagined and life decisions are made – and the thought of moving on from a current employer to find new opportunities is one of them.
On average it takes about 60 days for an average person to find a new role, so even though the roles are abandoned in January, the real change has already begun. From an employer perspective one of the most interesting times of the year is now. The communication between employers and their staff members should have commenced with strong indications towards keeping them, or attracting them.
The menu of items often up for discussion are the usual offerings;
- Purpose and CSR
- Opportunity for advancement
- Opportunity for learning
All of the above are critical aspects of your attraction or retention strategy. However, in times where salary for most organisations is really difficult to push far, the other attractive component you may not have considered is flexible work practices.
Now, it is important to note one thing. Branding and communication is important, and the first experience for job seekers are what you are saying in the market. That being said, it is even more critical that the marketing matches reality - especially when it comes to those you are trying to keep. Nothing is more disappointing, nor does it undermine trust more, than an organisation that is seen by the market to be a leader in flexibility, but whose employee experience does not match the marketing spiel. Therefore making sure the implementation of flexibility is done right, and done in a way to offer consistency across teams is critical.
Why are flexible work practices a great attraction and retention tool you ask?
According to our research of almost a thousand Australian workers at some point in their careers, 60% of people have considered leaving a place of work due to the lack of flexibility they have in their role. In a market where a large number of Australian organisations are talking about all roles flex, having more than half of your talent pool at some point consider leaving if you do not offer the same, is a dangerous place to be.
Compare that to research by LinkedIn that shows that only 22% of people left an organisation as they were unsatisfied with their compensation. Therefore the risk worth mitigating is not your salary offering, but your way of working.
On the flip side, flexible work conditions were shown to be the number one factor that people in Australia consider when looking at the new employer. Research on a global scale showed that 43% would choose flexibility in their work over a pay rise.
So what can you do to offer flexibility and make it work for you?
As mentioned earlier it is critical to ensure that any work you do around flexible work practice implementation and roll out is more than just a branding exercise. Nothing creates a employee detractor faster than an external brand that does not match the internal employee experience. Even if you manage to get some new people in with an “All Roles Flex” messaging, if they do not find that it is true to their experience once they start, failure to meet this expectation is likely to encourage them to move on quickly, and be more disappointed than if you had never set the expectation in the first place.
This also stands for those you are trying to keep their employees – going out and branding yourself as a highly flexible workplace when that is not their lived experience is more likely to push them out the door and look for organisations that are consistent.
6 things you can do to get flexibility right for your current and prospective employees....
1. Get your strategy right
Spend time to understand what it is that you really want to do. Provide your Executive decision makers with an understanding about how flexibility will fit within the strategic framework, and what they can truly, authentically support. Whether they are ready for “All Roles Flex” or whether they just want to start with a simple variation of time and place of work first for all (with the exception of those just starting out in their roles). It is ok to be specific about what your organisation is willing to proceed with first, as that will be more authentic, clear and consistent with the employee experience.
2. Get a good understanding of what your people want
You may find that what your staff want is not that far from where you are today. They may not want a completely distributed workforce that operates remotely all of the time, as they may be a highly social team that enjoys spend a lot of time together. Ensure you are not designing a program that is not in line with what your staff want.
3. Understand your competitive landscape
Find out what your competitors are doing – and understand your competitive playing field from a flexible working practice perspective.
4. Get the tech right
Make sure your technology is going to support the way you want to work. There is no point in going all roles flex if everyone is not enabled with laptops, remote access, cloud storage, and effective collaboration tools to ensure they are connected when working remotely.
This may be an optional thing. We have seen a lot of fantastic organisations with the right culture get flexibility right without a policy. If you are a more mature organisation with a set way of working that so far has not been flexible, you may want to put together a set of guidelines – reflecting the principles and ideas you want people to keep in mind when they are implementing flex.
6. Provide some support to your managers
We humans have this incredible feature built into our brains that triggers us into reverting to status quo. It is safe and comfortable. This is an energy saving type characteristic - even if something is actually better for us, our brain finds change hard, as it takes more energy so it happily defaults to status quo – or doing things just the same way it always had. So, asking people to change the way they work based on a policy, even if that is a great thing for them, is not really going to deliver a substantial change until you genuinely help them along. Things like training for front line leaders, storytelling of role models (we do love to follow the herd), especially when the herd is a powerful one), making flexibility a default (if not why not) and other little behavioural “nudges” will help it along.
Get in touch with Juggle Strategies Co-Founder, Maja Paleka firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help your business develop flex capability and set you up for the future of work.