There is no question that flexibility has emerged as a matter of utmost importance to many workers—both women and men.

In a recent Deloitte survey, professionals were asked what organizations could do to meet their career needs. It revealed significant shifts in the cultural dynamics of the workforce.

Among generational bands from Boomers to Millennials, a top response was “provide flexible working conditions and better work-life integration.”

 

One out of every five employees, for example, now cares for an elderly parent.

Women, tend to report a preference for more free time over more money. Men’s attitudes about long hours seem to have changed as well: 80 percent say they would like to work fewer hours.

“CFO asks CEO:

“What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?”

CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

Source: “Peter Baeklund resourceful leadership,”

Making flexibility pay off

In response to the need for flexibility, innovative companies have revamped schedules and invested in tools to open up possibilities for when, where, and how work gets done.

Some organizations let employees take as much vacation as they want. Companies in high-demand industries routinely offer free food, onsite gyms and other wellness benefits, and even laundry services and ping-pong tables—all to relieve workers of personal stress because of the hours they put in at the office.

Netflix famously allows employees to decide their own expense policies and select their preferred mix of salary and stock options.

How a tax service provider sees returns on flexibility

From its 1991 founding to the mid-2000s, tax service provider Ryan LLC enjoyed a continual history of revenue and headcount growth, as well as high client satisfaction scores. The culture at Ryan was historically hard-driving, obsessed with tabulating and rewarding long hours logged at the office.

Despite its generous compensation packages, the firm was developing a reputation as a highly skilled sweatshop, making it difficult to recruit new talent. Turnover rates were rising while employee satisfaction scores fell. To combat these issues, Ryan developed a flexible work environment program, dubbed myRyan, that eliminated its metric of hours logged, replacing it with a set of financial targets and performance measurements.

Employees can now work where, when, and how they want, as long as they hit their benchmarks. Flexible work does not mean “work in a vacuum,” however. Teams establish work blueprints, creating guidelines for how they will work together.

Since implementing myRyan, the company has restored high customer and employee satisfaction scores, reduced turnover, and lowered the associated costs of hiring and training new employees. These improvements have helped make it once again a desirable place to work. By one internal estimate, 85 percent of new hires join the company at least partly because of the myRyan program. Ryan’s revenue has doubled since the program’s debut.

— Brenda Kowske, The flexible workplace delivers results: How Ryan, LLC transformed its workplace culture to increase earnings and retain its highly skilled employees, Bersin by Deloitte www.bersin.com/library.