Part Two – “Where Do We Go from Here? – Flexibility, Non-Monetary Benefits,&Workplace Culture”
In this “Part Two” of our discussion of “where the staffing industry goes from here,” our focus will be on changes in the labor force, specifically changes in worker attitudes toward work itself. The how and where, when,and general conditions under which work is accomplished.
These changing attitudes towards work certainly played a role in the “scarcity of workers”issue we discussed in Part One which considered the unprecedented millions of early retirements in 2020 and 2021, and an equal number of women with children leaving the labor market completely during that same period.
When millions of people simply “quit” and permanently “drop out” of the labor market it is a good idea to take a closer look. We need to understand the “Why”.
Covid also played a part in the millions who actually quit but according to some the primary role covid played, especially for women, was in giving them time at home with their children, family, and friends and the opportunity therefore to re-evaluate what was most important in their lives.
So, what do workers want most today? Knowing and understanding and providing what workers want,or need, can certainly help in a retention strategy and a more effective approach to recruitment.
There are three areas which studies show could meet the desires of millions and contribute to increased productivity and retention. These three areas are: Flexibility, Non-Monetary Benefits, and Workplace Culture.
This has been a concern of workers for some time, but the pandemic brought this issue to crisis proportions when schools and day care centers were closed.
With the return to work, flexibility in scheduling work hours has become a permanent value.
In 2017, The Harvard Business review reported on a study of “The Most Desirable Employee Benefits and the results were very surprising (at least to me) in that “More Flexible Hours”, at 88% “most valued” was tied for first place (88%) with “Better health, dental and vision insurance” (88%)
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has highlighted and supported research in workplace flexibility for many years as this report from 2016 indicates.
The Families and Work Institute has done many studies that support workplace flexibility with different industries and income levels. You can freely download their“Workforce Research” studies, many of which are on workplace flexible
In 2017, the “Harvard Business Review” reported on a study of “The Most Desirable Employee Benefits and the results were very surprising (at least to me) in that “More Flexible Hours” ranked #2.
It is now common for nurses to work 12 hour shifts 3 days a week with 4 days off. My own “informal” survey tells me they really like it. There are many possible options that can better fit the circumstances of millions while increasing job satisfaction, productivity, and retention.
There are many benefits that cost the company little or nothing or even less money while making employees happier and more productive.
In one amazing study that Forbes magazine reported on a survey of 3,000 employees at some very prestigious companies like Google, Apple, Amazon Microsoft, Facebook& SalesForce and 39 others.
The survey question asked, “Would you give up a $30,000 a year raise in order to permanently work from home?”. The responses were that 67% of workers at Google answered “yes”, at Amazon 64% said yes, as did Apple (69%), Microsoft (62%} Salesforce (76%) etc.
Of the 45 companies surveyed only 2 (JP Morgan and Qualcomm) had a higher percentage of their employees go for the $30,000 raise option. Amazing!
Another non-monetary benefit could be “flex time” where accumulated extra hours worked could be used as vacation days. In the study reported by the Harvard Business Review (above) “More vacation time) ranked # 3 in the “most valued benefits” study. If this benefit were structured well, it could be a real “win-win” for both the employer and employee and no extra payroll taxes for either.
Another highly valued benefit of this arrangement is that it helps to create“a greater balance between work and leisure” with increased “quality time” for individuals and families.
It is often noted that several European countries have a “starting” vacation time of one month.Flextime could be a good way to get us caught up with a that wonderful benefit that is fully paid for through productive time on the job.
In a Forbes article on “How to Create a Positive Workplace Culture” they begin with a definition. Their definition was “the shared values, attitudes, belief systems, and the set of assumptions that people in a workplace share”.
These shared values, attitudes, etc. can be positive or negative, in-between, or even toxic. Looking at the details of their definition and the goal of creating a culture that is “positive” I cannot help but comment that the goal of a “shared” anything in today’s larger culture is next to impossible. Certainly, it is, as they say, “challenging”.
But we do not need to create a positive workplace culture in an entire city or state, just our own little company where we get to choose what to do, who to hire, who to guide, and who to fire.
Because so much depends on the owner or CEO, I strongly suggest finding a good mentor with helpful personal qualities and a record of success.
Because it is so difficult,it is probably the most neglected area to address and where the daily goal often becomes simply avoiding chaos or failure. Those goals can be extremely stressful and exhausting. So,going about the quiet work of creating a positive workplace culture is the best survival and success plan available. Just do it! Stay Safe!