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4 ways to improve retention through better work flexibility

teleworkWhile a lot of things about HR are constantly changing, there’s one element that always stays the same, and that’s the focus on maximizing employee retention and productivity. If you can find employees who will be willing to stay in their current jobs and achieve at a high level, your organization is assured of being more successful.

What you might not realize is that much of the burden for maximizing retention is on you, the HR leader. The way you manage your staff can have a profound effect on whether people are satisfied with their positions and willing to stay.

Case in point: Let’s discuss workplace flexibility. There’s a growing sentiment in today’s business world that the conventional way of doing things – show up at 9, sit at a desk for eight hours, go home at 5 – is too rigid for the modern employee. People are clamoring for a new model or, at the very least, the right to tweak the existing one.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, this can actually be a major factor influencing people’s satisfaction with their jobs. The latest edition of SHRM’s “Job Satisfaction and Engagement” survey found that 91 percent of workers refer to flexibility as either “important” or “very important” to their level of happiness at work.

Jennifer Schramm, manager of SHRM’s workplace trends and forecasting program, wrote that companies need to consider this as they go about scheming for employee retention.

“SHRM research on leveraging benefits for retention last year found that 62 percent of the HR professionals surveyed said that they believed that flexible working benefits are increasing in importance in terms of their efforts to retain highly skilled employees – the top factor cited,” Schramm noted. “Their real challenge may be in convincing their organizational leaders to see it the same way.”

To that end, below is a look at four different ways your company can increase people’s flexibility with their jobs:

Allowing for new technology
People today want the freedom to stray away from their basic work computers and use other devices for completing their daily tasks. Laptops, tablets and smartphones should all be fair game. Is your organization prepared to accept this change?

Offering flexibility with location
Some people don’t want to show up to the office every day, or are just unable to. It might fit their life schedules better to have some flexibility – to work from home when a child is sick, or to set up at another location when travelling. Thanks to the wealth of technology options available today, this should actually be quite realistic.

Swapping shifts on the schedule
The traditional “Monday to Friday” grind isn’t always the best fit for some people. If they have other responsibilities they need to attend to on a certain day, they might ask to adjust their schedules and work different days. Your company should create policy for handling these requests, so employees are aware of how they can use this benefit. 

Tweaking hours in the workday
Finally, the “9 to 5” routine doesn’t work for some people either. An employee’s lifestyle may require them to bend the rules a bit, shifting their hours a little earlier or a little later depending on different life events. Allowing for this minor change can help you retain your valued employees.

To learn more about what it takes to be an employer of choice, read this blog post from Ceridian CHRO, Sara Hill: Gaining recognition as an employer of choice: Exploring the how and why.

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