Does workplace flexibility help win the war for talent?

“Flexibility is intoxicating. For me, leaving corporate life has meant working a much more fle

“Flexibility is intoxicating. For me, leaving corporate life has meant working a much more flexible schedule. I’m just as busy, but twice productive. I honestly think if I were still at Conglomerate Inc., I’d find a flexible work schedule 10 times more motivating than a huge pay raise.” – Scott Mautz, Author

In 1997, McKinsey researchers proposed that a war for talent was underway and it posed as a strategic business challenge. They predicted that an organisation’s success would depend on their ability to attract, develop and retain talented employees in a highly competitive landscape. It has been two decades and the war has still not ended.

Each year brings with it a new trend to help companies attract and retain their star employees – by way of wellness programmes, career progression, transparent policies etc. But a basic thing that many employers fail to consider is a proper work life balance by providing workplace flexibility. So, does this arrangement really work?

What the studies conclude…

Professionals all over India are struggling to maintain a good work-life balance. A 2016 Sustainable Cities Report by Arcadis (a design and consultancy firm) reveals that all major Indian metros rank extremely low when it comes to maintaining a proper work-life balance. While Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata ranked from 75 to 78 4.1% each, Mumbai ranked at 86 with 2.5% and New Delhi at 87 with 3.4%. As a result, managing personal and professional responsibilities becomes harder.

LinkedIn’s Top Attractors survey highlighted that “a flexible work schedule and ability to work remotely are increasingly important for Indian professionals (66%). Moreover, 48% Indian professionals say that they would forgo a top position and a high salary for more flexibility.”

This holds true especially for Indian women, as they have the added burden of not only excelling at their workplace but also taking good care of their kids and household. This forces many female professionals to quit their jobs post childbirth. A poll conducted by ProEves discovered that childcare and lack of flexibility were the main reasons for such women to leave the corporate ladder.

Building the case for workplace flexibility

The employee perspective

“I love the flexibility to work from home one day a week. Personally, as a new dad, it gives me more time to spend with my family… What it also does additionally is it gives me a chance to reflect on the key priorities at work and refocus my energies towards them” – A brand manager with Procter & Gamble

A 2016 research also shows that when employees are offered workplace flexibility, they tend to have a higher job satisfaction and reduced levels of psychological stress and burnout than employees who do not have such flexibility.

The employer perspective

“At SAP, we don’t track employee attendance or clock the number of hours they work… We trust our employees to give their best and in turn, we’ve been rewarded by a workforce that’s passionate about delivering products and solutions that meet the needs of our customers.” – Head HR, SAP India

Furthermore, companies that provide flexible work arrangements are more likely to see an increase in profits, better job performance, an improvement in team work and staff morale, and a positive impact on their organisation’s reputation.

To conclude

Disruptive technologies have already marked their arrival, and the war for talent is intensifying with each passing day. The demand for workplace flexibility is rising and it’s only set to escalate as companies proceed into the future.

“If organisations move away from treating flexible work arrangements as a discretionary benefit offered to a few employees to deploying it as a deliberate workforce strategy, they can gain significant competitive advantage through cost savings, higher levels of productivity, access to a diverse talent pool, higher retention and, over a longer period of time, organisational sustainability and business continuity.” – Shilpa Khanna, director, Aon Hewitt.

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