Job flexibility: Not just a mom thing

We often associate workplace flexibility issues with women, particularly working mothers. But new research shows that achieving a work/life balance is just as important to men.

Talent acquisition firm Mom Corps (full disclosure, I own the Mom Corps Denver franchise), recently released findings from its third annual flexibility survey of 886 working adults, conducted by Harris Interactive. This year’s survey found that 73 percent of adults – both men and women – rank flexibility as one of the most important factors they consider when looking for a new job or deciding where to work. That represents a more than 10 percentage point increase from 2012 when 61 percent of respondents considered flexibility a priority in their job search.

In fact, flexibility is becoming so important to men, that 53 percent of male respondents ages 18 to 34 said they have left or have considered leaving a job because it wasn’t flexible enough. In comparison, 46 percent of women ages 18-34 said they have left or have considered leaving a job because of flexibility issues. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they would be willing to relinquish at least some portion of their salary for increased flexibility.

The data shows that flexibility shouldn’t be as simply a women’s issue, but as a workforce issue.  Employers may lose talented professionals if they fail to offer flexible work options – a problem that can be pricey to address. The cost of turnover varies by profession and industry, but is generally 1.5 times the salary for a manager or professional, according to research from the management consulting firm, Hay Group.

Employers must recognize that a major shift away from the traditional 9-to-5 work day is taking place. Nearly 60 percent of working adults agree that they would get more work done if they had the ability to work from home occasionally.

Alternate work options – such as contracting, consulting and part-time positions – are also more in demand, with 48 percent of respondents indicating that they would consider such options to achieve better work/life balance. 

The numbers are even higher for younger workers, who seem to value flexibility more than their younger counterparts. Fifty-nine percent of working adults ages 18-34 would consider alternative work options. For adults ages 55 and older, the number was jut 14 percent.

Employers who can seize on these trends and find a way to offer more flexibility and more non-traditional work arrangements might be the organizations best poised for success in the years to come.

Categories: Management & Leadership