Flexible scheduling. Compressed work weeks. Remote work. Unlimited paid time off.
The way we work is changing. Smartphones in our pockets mean there’s pressure to always be on. Meanwhile, a tightening labor market has employers, especially small businesses, finding creative ways to attract and keep talent. Enter flexible work arrangements.
More workers are asking for flexibility in the hours they work, the locations they work from, the time they can take off to decompress or volunteer in the community. And for employers, a flexible work policy can provide a competitive edge. But small businesses (companies with 500 or fewer employees) have precious little data on this growing trend. Which is why we surveyed hundreds of small business employees to create The State of Flexible Work Arrangements, which released today.
The result is a detailed report regarding which flexible work benefits small businesses are offering, which employees value most and use frequently, how important these policies are to workers, and more. You can access the entire report here. But here’s a sampling of the most important flexible work stats for 2018.
It may sound surprising, but the majority of small business employees reported that their current employer offers some type of flexible work benefits or perks. This category can be broad, encompassing scheduling, flexibility around hours worked, remote work, unlimited time off or time off for volunteering, even casual attire in the workplace. But it’s clear small businesses are trying to provide more flexibility to their talent.
It’s little wonder that employers are trying to be more flexible when the vast majority of their employees either strongly or somewhat agreed that these benefits increased their satisfaction.
Employees at small businesses don’t only enjoy flexibility because it makes them happier, it also makes them more productive — a win win for employers. 78% either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that flexible work benefits made them more productive.
For those small businesses wondering just how important flexible work arrangements are to attracting talent, the answer is clear. The majority of the employees surveyed either strongly or somewhat agreed that it will be a major consideration when choosing their next job.
Despite the majority of employees at small businesses reporting access to some form of flexible work benefits, most said that there wasn’t an official policy in place. 30% of that cohort said that it was up to their individual managers’ approval. Another 5% were unsure if a policy was in place or not.
A lack of an official policy might sound insignificant, but it could be a big problem when it comes to ensuring proper use of these arrangements or even reminding workers of what opportunities are available to them.
We saw how negatively impactful lacking an official policy could be when we asked employees whether they’re likely to leave their current employer in the next 12 months because they lacked certain flexible work arrangements. 36% either strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement. Another 19% were neutral.
There’s still a gap among many employers when it comes to providing the right tools. 20% of full-time employees at small businesses either strongly or somewhat disagreed that their company provided tools to make using their flexible work arrangements easy and productive. Another 25% were neutral.
As employers consider adding flexible work policies, they also need to look at the tools available they provide employees and whether they’re designed for the way the modern workforce operates.
These are just a few of the findings from The State of Flexible Work Arrangements report. The full data includes which flexible benefits are in demand, which leave policies are in place and being used, how different generations are evaluating these benefits and a lot more.
That flexible work is on the rise among small businesses is clear. But employers clearly need to adopt policies, guidance and technology to ensure workers know they exist, use them properly and remain productive.