Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study, which contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics about future trends in the workforce and our workplaces. This is the second in that series. Watch for more over the coming months.
Throughout the series of posts I’ve written thus far surrounding findings from Spherion’s Emerging Workforce Study, we’ve already looked at the trends surrounding the skills that will be needed in our future workplaces as well as the type of workforce we as employers should expect in the future. What we haven’t looked at yet is the type of workplace we will need to provide to those future workforces.
As our workforces become more and more mutli-generational, expectations about the nature of work and the workplace are changing. In days past, it was enough to provide a safe and stable environment where workers could come in, put in an honest day’s work for a fair wage, clock out and go home, and then come back the next day and repeat. Employees were generally loyal, the goal being to find a good company where you could work throughout your career and someday retire from, hopefully with a good pension. But those days have changed. In our fast-paced, knowledge focused economy, the days of lifetime loyalty, on both the part of the employee and employer, are generally over. Younger generations don’t believe in, nor do they expect, lifetime loyalty on either part. And workers from older generations who may have been burned by 25 years of loyalty, only to be laid off when times got rough, may not buy into it as much anymore either.
We already established in the last post that Generations Y and Z, those that we are most depending on to fill the gaps as Boomers retire, are the least loyal and engaged generations in the workforce. As HR professionals we know we need to figure out how to attract and retain these groups, and part of that plays right into what we need to offer as far as the elements of our workplaces, specifically related to work/life balance. The 2015 Emerging Workforce Study illustrates that more employers are offering work/life balance programs and options. Some of the specific statistics show:
- 53% of employers offer telecommuting
- 60% offer flextime
- 39% offer sabbaticals (a new trend that has increased significantly from 17% in 2014)
Employers for the most part are feeling like these offerings are positively affecting worker satisfaction (81%), productivity (73%), and recruitment (62%). Sounds like we got this, right?
But hold up. The bad news is that the study also cites that two-thirds of employees are still not satisfied with work/life programs offered to them, and one-third feel the distinction between work life and personal life is not very clear.
What’s an HR Leader To Do?
There’s clearly still opportunities related to work/life balance. In an era of smart phones and constant connectivity, the line continues and will continue to blur. We may never solve the issue of where work ends and personal life begins, and quite honestly many employees may prefer the freedom that blending the two may provide. But if our employees are willing to blur those lines, then as employers we need to be willing to be flexible as well. If 53% of us are offering telecommuting opportunities and 60% offering flextime, that still leaves 47% and 40% respectively who are not. Why is that? Is it the nature of our businesses that logistically don’t allow for it (i.e. healthcare, retail, etc.) Or are we just being stubborn in thinking that our workplaces need to remain structured the way they always have? Do we have technology and systems in place that allow for working remotely? Are we capable of collaborating with co-workers from a distance? Then why wouldn’t we consider some of these options? The 2015 EWS also states that for 37% of workers, the ability to work full time from both an office and remotely is the most ideal situation for them. I speculate we will continue to see that number go up over time. And for those industries historically driven by shift work and the need to have those specific shifts covered, they are not off the hook either. They’re going to have to search for even more creative ways to offer work/life balance options.
As our workplaces continue to evolve and allow more effectively for these types of arrangements, we’d be foolish to not tap into those opportunities.
Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.