Why flexibility is a win-win

Flexible working still matters to employees–and it’s good for employers, too. The trick is finding a balance that works for both.

While work-life balance is high on the list of priorities for many employees, that can mean a range of things to different people. 40% of job seekers believe that the option to work from home or remotely is a ‘must-have’, according to research for SEEK. Additional leave is also a ‘must-have’ for 34% of job seekers, while almost half say they’d be delighted to receive additional leave and flexible working arrangements. 

Here, experts share the benefits of offering flexibility – and discuss what can happen if you don’t.

What's flexibility at work?

Whether it’s varied days, hybrid working options, job sharing or extra leave, there are several strategies that can bring flexibility to a workplace.

By partnering with employees you can support flexibility in a way that works for the business, teams and individuals, says Amber Johnson, Organisational Development Manager at MYOB.

“This could involve flexibility in terms of working hours, location or a combination of both.

“At MYOB we’ve been successfully working flexibly for years, and recognise the value of balancing in-person collaboration with the opportunity to work from home.”

Benefits of flexibility for employers

Offering flexibility can attract a wider, more diverse pool of talent, and create a work environment that's both more engaging and efficient Johnson says.

“It also acknowledges that the workforce is made up of people who have interests and responsibilities outside of the workplace.”

Flexibility improves productivity and helps with talent acquisition, says Jaime-Lee Price, Head of People and Culture at SEO agency StudioHawk.

“Flexibility increases employee satisfaction and morale, which leads to higher retention rates.”

It also shows employees that the business trusts them, Price adds.

Benefits of flexibility for employees

Work-life balance remains a priority for most employees, and Price says flexibility creates a better work-life balance, which helps reduce stress and burnout.

“It increases happiness, job satisfaction and motivation, which all leads to higher productivity and longevity.

“It also helps accommodate personal commitments like important religious holidays, childcare or medical appointments.”

Johnson says for team members, the benefits of flexibility include the ability to work when they’re most efficient, the opportunity to balance work with other activities and the option to work in other environments such as their home.

“Working from home can offer benefits such as quiet working and deep thinking, while working at the office can enable innovation, connection to team members and create space for collaboration.”

What are the possible consequences of not offering flexibility?

Sorting out flexible working offers can seem like an extra challenge among the ongoing responsibilities of running a business.

But not offering flexibility can have negative consequences for both employers and team members, Johnson says.

“Team members may feel frustrated, demotivated and feel they lack autonomy in how they best work. In turn, this can lead employers to struggle to attract and retain talent.”

Price adds that a lack of flexibility can increase staff turnover and it can also reduce employee morale and engagement, which will impact productivity.

How to offer flexibility to your employees

Flexibility comes in all forms, depending on the needs of your organisation – and your creativity. Here are some ways of offering flexible work conditions.  

Find a balance

When implementing flexibility, MYOB’s ‘flexperience’ policy aims to balance the needs of staff with the goals of the business.

“We look to balance personal preferences along with what is most effective for the organisation, the team, and the individual, with the end goal of providing best quality solutions for our customers,” Johnson says.

“Flexperience is about empowering the team to do their best work in a way that suits them, while also meeting the needs of the team and MYOB.”

Make it remote

Varying the days that employees work in the office can mean that employees are on-site for team meetings, Johnson says. 

“For us, this means committing to some days in the office for team collaboration, with flexible options regarding working hours and start/finish times.”

Give WFH credits

'Special' and 'sick' working from home (WFH) credits are one option available for employees, Price says.

“Employees can use them for things like a medical appointment, a tradie coming to fix the plumbing or having to be available at home for any reason.”

Vary work times

Staff could be offered the option of starting or finishing earlier or later. And if employees have a 30-minute lunch break instead of 60 minutes, they can start later or finish their day half an hour early, Price says.

“Another way of doing this would be introducing an early finish on a Friday by allowing your employees to finish at 3pm every Friday (pending their work is done for the week!),” Price says.

“If the business can’t allow this early finish by wearing the cost, then making it up throughout the week with working say 30 mins extra Monday to Thursday. That buys two hours to use for the early Friday finishes.”

Change with the seasons

No one likes travelling home from work when it’s cold and dark, so Price suggests giving staff the option of changing their hours depending on the season.

“In Winter, we change up the hours to start and finish earlier so that staff aren't getting home when it's pitch black, or having more WFH credits for winter,” Price says.

“For Summer, we change the working week to Monday and Tuesday WFH and Wednesday to Friday in the office, so on a Friday staff can knock off a bit earlier and enjoy an after-work drink or hang out with colleagues, which always boosts the vibes!”

Offering flexibility lifts employee satisfaction and encourages loyalty in staff who'll feel confident their employer has trust in them. A flexible work environment will be more efficient and keep employees engaged and morale high. Creative solutions to flexible working practices attract diverse talent and improve retention rates – which is a win for everyone.

Source: SEEK Laws of Attraction survey, an ongoing monthly survey conducted by SEEK. Published April 2024.

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