As the economy starts to recover, more companies are realizing it’s time to address the impact of last year’s “survival decisions” on employee engagement and retention. Without a shift in strategy, recent sales gains may be undone, new product development may be stymied and that forward momentum you’re starting to experience may grind to a halt as you watch your best players walk out the door.
A Realistic Threat
Recent surveys indicate that a full 81 percent of your workforce might be in play. As many as 60 percent of your workforce intend to leave this year, and another 21 percent are networking to keep their options open. A full 50 percent of employees (in organizations with more than 50 employees) are “completely unengaged.”
It’s no wonder when you consider that:
50 to 75 percent of companies froze or reduced salaries in the recession
72 percent of companies restructured or laid workers off
Workers’ work/life needs suffered under the threat of job loss.
Employee engagement is a critical factor to an organization’s success. A highly engaged workforce is 50 percent more productive than an unengaged one. Consider that 71 percent of firms with high levels of engagement had “above average” financials in a Conference Board Employee Engagement Study.
The good news is that there is a proven, low cost way to boost engagement: workplace flexibility.
A recent study showed that workers who had flexible hours tended to work more intensely—that is higher productivity and longer hours—than their counterparts with more rigid office hours.
Published in the journal Human Relations, researchers surveyed more than 2,000 multinational corporations. They found that employees who worked remotely one day a week and workers who had fewer required office hours tended to report higher job satisfaction, lower stress and higher loyalty than those who weren’t able to flex.
These findings aren’t new, and they aren’t really counter-intuitive. As one researcher suggests, flexible workers feel compelled to thank their employer for flexibility by expending greater effort. Benefits also stem from reduced stress and better mental clarity as workers are better balance work and personal demands.
The impact is measurable. At one property and casualty company, flexibility led to an 18 percent increase in claims handled and 7 percent decrease in calls routed to voicemail. Flex teams also reduced unscheduled absenteeism by 50 percent and realized a 40 percent decrease in overtime hours.
Those are things that make a difference.