Employers need to make flexibility a workplace imperative to boost employee attraction, retention – Houston Chronicle

November 24, 2022
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Rachel Everaard is the US-West Region People Advisory Services Leader of  Ernst & Young LLP
The employee-employer dynamic has changed. Strong demand for talent combined with a shortage of workers in the labor market has given employees greater leverage in shaping the design and function of the workplace. Today’s workforce is confident they can be just as productive working remotely, and perhaps get even more done, than they would returning to the office.
While competitive pay and benefits still matter, the 2022 EY US Generation Survey confirmed this prioritization of work flexibility. A third (33 percent) of baby boomer respondents said flexibility in where and when they work is a top factor when looking for a new position, more than any other generation. In addition, 35 percent of millennials and 29 percent of Gen X respondents who intend to leave their job in the next year said hybrid/work-from-home options would entice them to stay.
The challenge for employers is to take these needs and create a dynamic, purposeful work environment that fits their business model. Here are three actions companies should take to build a workplace that can attract and retain the best talent:
Companies need to be willing to try new hiring approaches. Boards and leadership teams should think about the makeup of their organization and assess which positions need to be filled by people who routinely work in the office and which can be handled by a remote or hybrid worker.
As technology keeps evolving, the number of jobs that can be done away from the office will continue to grow. The result will be greater flexibility and a deeper talent pool from which to hire. Neither employers nor employees will be limited by geographic boundaries in getting what they want. Hiring managers can reimagine their strategy to take advantage of this new variable in their hiring formula.
Employees want to do work that means something and take on roles that serve a clear purpose. With that as a backdrop, employers should take the time to understand the work habits of their employees and use those findings to maximize performance.
Every job and every company is different, and there are roles that don’t offer much room for adjustment. The effort companies make to help employees feel valued and remove barriers from their workflow should result in a stronger culture and greater employee retention.
When the time comes to bring everyone into the office, companies need to make that time count. Professional development sessions should relate very closely to the work employees are doing or to a situation facing that company or industry. Meetings should be crisp, focused and leave employees feeling as if they gained something from the experience.
The key to getting employee buy-in and support for all of these efforts is listening. Companies that create and maintain open communication channels can react to changes and continually adapt their workplace to meet the needs of their people.
Rachel Everaard is the US-West Region People Advisory Services Leader of  Ernst & Young.
 
 
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