7 Ways Flexible Work Policies Attract Long-Term Talent

Flexible Work

As the employment pool continues to skew younger now and into the future, corporations—especially in the tech and startup space—are finding it increasingly difficult to procure, and most importantly, retain top talent in the long-term. Viewed as being ill prepared for the real world and oblivious to hard work— young talent is readily underappreciated and misunderstood.

Yet, it’s not without just concern, as the job-hopping statistics of Millennials are enough to give employers pause. Forbes notes

“About 60% of Millennials are currently open to a new job opportunity and are by far the most likely generation to switch jobs. To support that, 21% of Millennials in 2016 reported switching jobs within the past year, compared to roughly 7% of gen Xers and other non-Millennials. Gallup also accuses the Millennial generation’s excessive job hopping of costing the United States economy more than $30 billion a year.”

Having learned that fancy benefits and next-level office environments alone are not enough to keep fresh employees from moving on to another opportunity, there are a variety of measures that organizations must take into consideration in order to grow and thrive after landing top-level talent.

The incoming workforce holds their employers to a higher standard than the generations that preceded them; they’re working to live, not living to work. And though many enterprise organizations have adopted policies that should persuade them to stay, it’s still an uphill battle. A challenge predicated on a vast differential between who is creating the culture and who is interviewing into it.

 As the rising talents’ age decreases, the age of upper-management, in most organizations, is increasing. With data from Crist Kolder suggesting in Quartz, that  “the average age of new CEOs and CFOs at the US’s biggest companies has increased since 2012, climbing from 45 years old to 50 years old for CEOs and from 42 to 48 for CFOs.”  

Per Statista data, as of 2016 the median age of an employee at the top tech companies was 27-39, according to Business Insider.

Which, by and large, makes primary sectors of the overall workforce Millennials—earmarked by Pew Research Center as anyone “born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in 2018)”

And while their parents and grandparents may have been more receptive to putting work above all else, most Millennials are flatly rejecting that notion. The idea of ‘work-life balance’ has become a cornerstone principle for the younger generation’s view of their long-term employment.

A Comparably study of “thousands of employees at small, mid-size, and large public and private companies was collected between March 2016 and August 2017” theorized,

Millennials rank career advancement just as high as work-life balance

Besides salary, what’s most important to you about work? Workers aged 18 to 35 rank career advancement opportunities and work-life balance at the top: 32% say career advancement and 34% say work-life balance.

Among millennials, older millennials say work-life balance is most important. Millennials aged 30 to 35 were more interested in work-life balance than career-advancement opportunities.”

 That means their free time is of the utmost importance to them; especially those without attachments like spouses or children. Millennials are free to live their best life when they’re off the clock—which can be problematic for employers that want to make them more engaged in the overall office environment.

The younger generation won’t take a bone to keep them satiated; they demand a different lifestyle— to be appreciated on a deeper level than free food and fancy gym memberships.  They believe corporations have a responsibility to understand their potential hires and learn how to create intrinsic value over doling out hollow perks.

With the greater focus on the employee experience as a whole—a trend that will turn much more commonplace in the future—what underlying principles are most likely to make a quality employee stay? To maximize the longevity of employment within this new workforce there are several incentives to take into consideration.

1. Flexible Work Policies

Excellent employees are best left to self-governing; what’s more, organizations thrive when they focus on promoting positive results, and not micromanaging an employee’s everyday schedule. As Entrepreneur mentions,

“In an autonomous organization, it’s what gets done that matters, with less concern for how it gets done. The bottom-line benefit to both employees and organizations is that workers who are free to make more choices are happier, more committed to their jobs, productive and less likely to leave.” 

There are numerous ways that organizations can implement successful strategies for flexible work arrangements. Two of the primary examples are the dispensation to work from home and modern procedures like the R.O.W.E.—Results Oriented Work Environment—Method.

Interconnectivity is ingrained in these potential hires; they understand that value of how technology makes our lives easier, as such, they’re more prone to desire to have that luxury in extended into their work. 

2. A Progressive Culture

Social responsibility, diversity, and transparency are all hallmarks of an enlightened institution. They’re also ultra-desirable traits for Millennial job seekers.   

Inc. notes in discussing “start up cultures that crush it”, the examples of  

“Hubspot, the global digital marketing automation company, redefined what it means to be transparent in business. They are now being recognized as having one of the greatest company cultures.

HubSpot co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Dharmesh Shah once published an article on his wiki page called "Ask Dharmesh Anything." And that's exactly what "HubSpotters" did -- engaging in a slew of discussions directly with their CTO.” 

And,  

“Buffer, the social media company, will publish pretty much everything: financials, revenues, how your money is being spent, even salaries. Now that's on the radical side of transparency. But they share this with everyone in the hopes of becoming an authentic and trusted community.”

When a corporation takes a definable stance on issues that are important to employees, they’re more likely to be more dedicated to an organization that they feels shares similar virtues as their own. 

3. Worthwhile Out of Office Benefits

Many enterprise benefits mean extra time in the office. Instead of allowing employees to be independent when they’re consuming their meals, going to the gym or attending a class or seminar— the perks of the job are onsite—and that constant participation with coworkers, superiors and the like can be considerably stifling.

When focused on personal growth and perks that exist outside of work, employees seem to be genuinely more content. Take this research for example,  

“A study released last month by Bright Horizons, a provider of employer-sponsored child care, education, and work/life solutions, found that 89% of employees with high levels of well-being reported high job satisfaction and nearly two thirds of those employees reported consistently putting in extra effort at work. Again, happy employees are more productive employees, which positively affects the bottom line.”

While striving to be advantageous for all, interoffice benefits often feel like an overwhelming obligation, instead of at-will opt-in opportunity. Over time, that pressure can easily cause an otherwise content employee to consider alternative employment with better OOO offerings.  

4. Continued Education

Knowledge is empowering at any age—and can have incredibly beneficial value to the overall growth of an institution over time. So much effort is spent dedicated to becoming proficient at something, but there is typically too little opportunity within organizations to continue to excel and become an expert, while working.  

With such a strong focus on higher education in recent decades, there is an innate sensibility to stay dedicated to continually honing a craft even after the college experience is over and it’s put into practice in a career setting.  As Gallup explains,

“Millennials care deeply about their development when looking for jobs—and naturally—in their current roles. An impressive 87% of millennials rate "professional or career growth and development opportunities" as important to them in a job—far more than the 69% of non-millennials who say the same.” 

When a company shows a deep appreciating for the repository of knowledge that its team possesses, and encourages them to keeping learning, there are only positive outcomes.

5. Organizational Intelligence

As noted above, creating a progressive corporate cultural can facilitate longstanding success for a team—it’s imperative, however, to understand how the idea of culture can affect an entire operation that’s a sum of many different parts.

Sometimes, a set of values that’s supposed to satisfy the whole group can be a major misstep. As HBR mentions,

“Even values espoused specifically to bring people together may not necessarily function that way. For example, Build-A-Bear Workshop states that it views “Di-bear-sity” as a core value. However, it’s fairly easy to imagine that while some might view this as a cute and positive representation of the value of diversity, others might respond that the term trivializes real issues related to diversity in the workplace and more generally in society. Employees might be divided on this point while retaining an overall commitment to the company and even feeling appreciative of the effort despite its weaknesses. Some research has found that rather than making everyone feel included, praising diversity can make some people feel singled out or threatened. It’s not simple.

The mission of any organization should always be straightforward; using hyperbolic language can muddy the waters in a way that may turn off people who feel the message misses the mark.”

6. Celebrating Employees’ Strengths

Encouraging innovation is an oft-overlooked aspect of employee loyalty— and sometimes, those making decisions have less forward-thinking ideas than brand new blood. 

According to Fast Company, 

“Nearly three out of five (56%) employees expressed that the opportunity to use their skills and abilities was a very important contributor to job satisfaction in the 2017 Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) “Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement” report. “Employees who feel a sense of purpose and who feel valued in their role will always give more. Research shows that focusing on what they can bring to the team fosters this sense of purpose more than focusing on what the organization can do for them.”  

Companies must utilize the skillsets they hired their employees for, or they risk team members feeling undervalued—creating a potential of losing them to someone that appreciates their best abilities.

7. Competitive Compensation

When enterprise makes a great effort to satisfactorily compensate their employees, they’ll find that their workforce is willing to do their best work. Millennials are more likely to leave a job for a better paying one, because according to one study, their compensation correlates directly with their overall happiness.

“Contrary to popular belief, millennials actually find compensation to be more important than boomers do. According to a recent Staples Business Advantage survey of over 3,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada, 52% of millennials who have changed jobs in the last 12 months have done so for a salary increase, compared to only 19% of boomers. It’s also their most important criterion for workplace happiness. Sixty-eight percent of millennials think an increased salary would improve happiness, compared to 60% of boomers.” 

With the huge amount of debt they carry, its easy to understand that Millennials don’t want to ‘get rich quick,’ but merely make a living wage that will allow them to successfully plan for the future they’ve worked hard for.

Procuring top talent will always be a balancing act for hiring managers—one that continuously involves juggling an ever-evolving array of wants and desires from the potential talent pool du jour.  Yet, it’s abundantly clear that there are specific standards of utmost importance; positions that create loyalty—ideals that are thought of as careful considerations— core principles that keep employees from even entertaining an exit strategy.

Originally featured on Opensourced Workplace