Flexibility and Job Satisfaction: Are Employers Listening?

Most employees think flexibility is critical to their job satisfaction: are employers listening?

The latest SHRM Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey confirms what many in HR already know: the flexibility to balance life and work issues is important to almost every employee – with 91% of workers polled saying it was either very important (55%) or important (36%) to their job satisfaction.

Yes, there were differences between the sexes – 97% of women rated it as either very important or important compared with 85% of men but even with this gap the vast majority of employees, including men, want workplace flexibility.  The same holds true when looking at the different generations – 95% of millennials rate this factor as very important/important to their job satisfaction compared with 94% of Gen Xers and 86% of baby boomers.

So are companies getting the message?  Some are – 35% of employees said they were “very satisfied” with their ability to balance life and work issues in their current jobs, while 35% said they were “satisfied”. But more could be done.  The annual SHRM Employee Benefits survey report shows that most flexible work benefits are holding fairly steady with only telecommuting on an ad-hoc basis rising significantly between 2010 when 44% of employers offered this to 2014 when 54% offered it.  At the same time telecommuting on a part-time basis declined from 34% to 29%. Other research we recently did on recruiting and retaining older workers found that many of the barriers HR professionals identify in their attempts to recruit or retain older workers involve their organization’s inability to offer some aspect of workplace flexibility such as flexibility in work location, work hours or schedules. 

Given the aging of the workforce and the need to hold onto the best and most skilled workers as long as possible, organizations will need to find ways to overcome these barriers.  And since the job satisfaction findings show that workflex is even more important to younger generations, the progress made in increasing flexible work arrangements will improve retention across generations.

HR professionals are very aware of the importance of workplace flexibility as a critical retention factor: SHRM research on leveraging benefits for retention last year found that 62% of the HR professionals surveyed said that they believed that flexible working benefits are increasing in importance in terms of their efforts to retain highly skilled employees – the top factor cited.  Their real challenge may be in convincing their organizational leaders to see it the same way. Those that are able to will position their companies for success as the job market heats up and it gets harder to recruit and retain those with the most in-demand skills.

For more data findings check out Strategic Benefits--Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs), Strategic Benefits--Leveraging Benefits to Retain Employees, Strategic Benefits--Leveraging Benefits to Recruit Employees and Strategic Benefits--Communicating Benefits.



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