Common challenges

Working Nine-ish to Five-ish: Helping Employees Make the Most of Flexible Work Arrangements

October 24, 2019

Employers today are likelier than ever to offer flex-work, or flexible working arrangements, like variable schedules, telecommuting, or core hours. In a recent survey by the Conference Board of Canada, more than 85% of employers said they offer some form of flex-work to their employees.

Despite this generosity, uptake from employees often falls short—the same survey found that less than 40% of employees actually use the flex-work options their employer offers. And yet flexible working arrangements are a consistent draw for candidates, with a flexible schedule consistently ranking high in desirable features for a job—often just behind competitive pay and good culture. So if lots of employers offer it, and lots of employees want it, why don’t more employees actually use flex-work?

Two of the biggest reasons why employees don’t use flexible working arrangements even when they’re available are lack of awareness or lack of interest. Obviously an employee can’t make use of an option they don’t know is available, and properly communicating the options that are available is the responsibility of the employer. However, employees also won’t use what they don’t want, so some of the lack of uptake is attributable to employers developing programs that don’t meet the actual needs of their employees.

As with any program employers develop to improve wellness and engagement—and therefore retention rates—it’s necessary to identify and overcome barriers to adoption. Putting time, thought, and effort into developing and establishing a program for your employees comes to nothing if your culture or practices interfere with their using it.

Times are changing and more companies are adopting some version of flex-work, but not all situations are the same. Download our Flex-Work Guide for suggestions on how you can make sure that your flexible work arrangements have the effect you want.

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