The Global Workplace of 2030

Data Point Tuesday

CBRE and Genesis recently released a report “Fast Forward 2030: The Future of Work and the Workplace,” which provides meaningful insight on the behaviors, ideas, and trends, that will shape work and the workplace in 2030. Their report analyzes responses from 220 experts, business leaders and young people from Asia Pacific, Europe and North America who shared their views on how the current workplace is evolving. That report’s focus was to look towards the future and identify trends that will change the way we work over the next 15 years globally, with a key focus on China and Asia. CBRE and Genesis aimed to capture the thoughts and aspirations of this next generation by holding focus groups, instead of traditional surveys or interviews, in 11 cities worldwide, where “more than 150 corporate youth between the ages of 23-29 gave their frank opinions about current work practices, and in particular, what is and isn’t working for them and more importantly how they would like this to change in the future.”

What will work look like in 2030? Through questions considering the nature of society and corporations, CBRE and Genesis ask respondents to identify what the big game changers will be for shaping the workplace between now and 2030. Major game changing trends and ideas included:

  • The Holistic Worker
  • Lean, Agile, and Authentic Corporations
  • The Sharing Economy

“The Holistic Worker” was an idea echoed many times throughout respondents’ answers. This is a trend that we’re already seeing today, probably most prominently in the increasing attention to social responsibility among organizations. CBRE and Genesis report that “The Holistic Worker” will continue to be a significant influencer of change in the workplace. Their research shows an increasing belief that work should be “joyous and more full-filling,” and that within work there should be many opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the organization as well as society. Essentially, the data show that lines between work and life are blurring. People are more and more often expecting the freedom to choose how, where, and when they work, and these attitudinal shifts are slowly, but surely, creating a major change in workplaces and societies.

In CBRE and Genesis’s report, 78% of youth indicated that happiness was as important as financial success. 70% of Korean parents felt happiness for their children was more important than educational and financial success and in Japan, young employees in the focus group echoed the same sentiments, talking about a way of work totally different than the traditional ways of their parents. They spoke to workplace flexibility, going home to spend time with family, and working at many organizations over their career. Thai participants in youth focus groups said they would be willing to be paid 20% less if they could work in vibrant environments with the freedom and choice about how and where they get work done. Workplace flexibility and the desire for CSR are global trends, and certainly not limited to western culture. With the desire for work to having meaning and purpose, quick impact will be key. CBRE and Genesis anticipate that in 2030: “most work will be broken down into small, discreet, comprehensible components. Each component will have a clear purpose and teams delivering will have significant autonomy and control, responding to the many of the desires of the holistic worker.”

Another game changer for 2030, will be the need for organizations to be lean, agile and authentic – specifically, authentic. If organizations cannot be true to their values and contribute to society beyond the bottom line, their main source of talent, the holistic worker (and by virtue, also holistic consumers) will be extremely limited. CBRE and Genesis predict that technology and “artificial intelligence” will be huge game changers for organizations that can leverage them correctly. Organizations with 20-40 people can be just an impactful as large corporations, and by leveraging technology while being “unhindered by legacy processes and mindsets,” they will easily disrupt existing corporate models. The growth of technology, while being extremely beneficial for workplaces, is also a worrisome concept. CBRE and Genesis’s report points out it’s predicted that 50% of the occupations in corporations today will not exist in 2030, and points to evidence that in the U.S technology is already destroying more jobs than it is creating:GDP vs. Employment Growth

“The Sharing Economy” was another major underlying theme in CBRE and Genesis’s research. They define this as a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources, whose emergence reflects changing attitudes in societies about ownership and collaborative consumption, fuelled by technology and apps that allow people to rapidly match supply and demand – person to person. Expert respondents in Beijing reported that the sharing economy would have significant impact to the future of work and the workplace in 2030, and used a research study by consultancy Latitude in the US71 as a framework for discussing how the sharing economy might impact real estate: Jan 27 2015 New Opps for SharingCBRE and Genesis also asked respondents about competitive advantage in 2030, and although answers covered a wide range, 10 top sources emerged, with attraction and retention of key/top talent as the number one source of competitive advantage followed by innovation. Jan 27 2015 Top 10 Sources of Competitive Advantage

When talking about innovation, respondents reported that for the future of the workplace “there will be constant innovation and support of entrepreneurial behaviors: micro-innovation within the organization”.

In several past posts I’ve discussed how the workplace is going increasingly global, yet to date most of the research in the area of work and the workplace remains from a western perspective. CBRE and Genesis’s report specifically widens the research to include not only western perspective but also those of developed and developing Asian nations, providing new and unique perspectives on a geographic level. Such perspectives can provide surprising results, such as the determination and excitement of young employees in Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo to rethink the experience of work and push their superiors to change, vs. more conservative opinions than expected in New York and London. Youth Appetite for Change

The bottom line? The youngest cohort of our employees – worldwide – are describing their preferences for work and the “office” of the not so very distant future as radically different than most work environments today. Those organizations desirous of developing their cultures to attract and retain today’s Millennials might take these findings into account. We Baby Boomers won’t be around forever. And that’s probably a good thing.

Be sure to check out CBRE and Genesis’ full report here.

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Which Comes First, Economic Performance or Best in Class HR?

Data Point Tuesday

The Boston Consulting Group recently released the eighth report in their Creating People Advantage series. This year’s survey report, “Creating People Advantage 2014-2015: How To Set Up Great HR Functions: Connect, Prioritize, Impact” included responses from 3,507 people in 101 countries across industries such as industrial goods, consumer goods, and the public sector. 64 HR and non-HR executives from leading companies across the world were also surveyed. The result was a report that explores key trends in people management by considering 10 broad HR topics and 27 subtopics. Key findings from the report included the following:

  • HR capabilities correlate with economic performance
  • Analytics and key performance indicators (KPI’s) give HR a seat at the table
  • KPI’s should link to strategic action
  • Globally, leadership and talent management topics are reported as in most need of urgent action
  • HR departments must be more consistent with investment decisions
  • HR needs to listen more to internal clients

HR topics ranked by urgencyAn important central finding of BCG’s survey was the correlation between HR capabilities and financial performance. BCG isolated the top 100 and bottom 100 companies based on financial performance and found that organizations stronger in people management have respectively higher financial performance than those organizations without strong people management. Among these high performers no HR subtopic was reported as in need of urgent action, which directly contrasts with the organizations with the worst financial performance, which reported need for urgent action across nearly all 27 HR subtopics. BCG points out that this has been a consistent finding among their past reports as well as in publically available research, referencing the share prices over the last decade of publicly listed companies that have made the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For List, produced by Great Place to Work. The most successful people companies regularly outperform the market by nearly 100%. One offered explanation for the superior HR achievement of high performers is their strategic allocation of investment. BCG’s report found that high performers strategically allocate their efforts, making sure to accurately distinguish between high and low priorities and distributing resources accordingly. Low performing organizations had a more unreasoned approach to allocating importance and often-misaligned investments, with the level of importance not necessarily correlating to their biggest areas of investment. Organizations should make sure they have a process in place to clearly identify HR subtopics/people management practices that are most important to their organization.investment methods

HR leaders looking to have “a seat at the table” for strategic discussions within their organizations must demonstrate the business impact of HR, providing executive management with quantitative evidence of how HR supports business strategic decisions. BCG’s research finds that organizations using people-related Key Performance Indicators, or tools such as simulations and forecasts, have greater strategic roles in their organization than companies that don’t utilize such tools. Such tools allow HR functions to measure and analyze areas such as employee productivity and people costs. High Performing Companies Data Driven

Simply put, HR functions that do not use metrics and analytics cannot play a strategic role in their organization, and furthermore, perpetuate the stereotype that HR functions should, or are better suited to work with, softer aspects of human capital management.

BCG looked at responding organizations’ perceived importance of 27 HR subtopics by region and industry, using an urgency metric to better understand those with the most need for action. In the majority of countries leadership was ranked (by a wide margin) as the most urgent subtopic, followed by talent management. Beyond these two subtopics, importance varied considerably by region. In the U.S, behavior and culture, along with employee engagement, ranked as more urgent than in most other countries. When breaking subtopics down by industry importance, the results were similar, with leadership, talent management, and behavior and culture ranking as most urgent across the majority of industries.

Differnces in Urgency by Country Ultimately, BCG’s report highlights three hallmarks of a great HR function that prove as critical differentiators between high and low performing organizations:

  • Connect – clearly linking HR and people strategies with business strategy
  • Prioritize – identify most urgent priorities and invest resources accordingly
  • Impact – generate and report people-based KPI’s, providing data to formulate strategic actions

Organizations that can collectively institute all three ideas create HR functions that we can describe as “best in class.” The real question to be answered, though, is “which comes first, best in class HR or strong economic performance?” If you’re in HR, I know what I hope your answer is!

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Why Aren’t We Developing More Global Leaders?

Data Point TuesdayThe Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) recently released its 5th iteration of their GLD (Global Leadership Development) study. The report, “Global Leadership Development: Preparing Leaders for a Globalized Market”, examines opportunities and challenges for organizations working to develop “global leaders,” or leaders who have global expertise and can perform in an international environment. With factors like technology making the workforce increasingly global, this is an area of leadership development that organizations should consider adding to their focus. As i4cp discusses in the report, “The purposeful development of global competencies and capabilities among leaders is essential to organizational effectiveness and competitive edge.” Attention is certainly shifting towards GLD. However, despite that the number of organizations focusing on global leadership (through either general leadership development programs or specific GLD programs) has grown from 31% in 2010 to 44% in 2014, this figure still equates to less than 50% of organizations addressing global leadership development. Even among large corporations who may have greater resources to dedicate towards GLD programs, less than 54% report addressing GLD.

I’ve discussed the current importance placed on leadership development in previous posts (here and here), and this holds true in i4cp’s study. Organizations perceive leadership development as a critical area of focus right now, and yet, most organizations report few programs and/or low effectiveness when it comes to their current approach to leadership development. From i4cp’s study of human capital issues specifically, it is reported that organizations are not only ineffective at leadership development, they are increasingly getting worse at it, with 27% reporting effective leadership development in 2010, versus 25% in 2014. This holds true for global leadership development as well, with only 21% of large employers stating they are effective at GLD, despite that 60% view developing global skill in leaders as “highly important.”

Importance vs. effectiveness GLDAdditionally only 53% of large organizations report making an effort to develop global leaders. However on a positive note, those organizations that have either dedicated GLD programs or GLD programs embedded within general leadership development programs, report an increase in focus on GLD (up from 48% in 2013).

Dedicated vs. embedded global leadership development chartOne of several key findings from i4cp’s 2104 study is that for organizations to develop an effective GLD program, they must connect the curriculum to the business at a local level. Leaders should understand how the business is different in relation to region – an example being that one region may have a completely different sales approach than another region. Competencies to include as outlined by i4cp’s report for GLD effectiveness are:

  • Knowledge of cultures/customs in specific markets.
  • Ability to be conversational or fluent in prominent languages within specific markets.
  • Knowledge about customers and/or prospective customers in specific markets.

It should be pointed out that for leaders to gain local perspective or knowledge, they do not necessarily need to physically immerse themselves in a region. Instead, organizations can leverage technology like webcasts, audio/video conferences, and social media, to bring leaders regional-specific learning without incurring the potential costs (both monetary costs like transportation and non-monetary like the impact of relocation on a family) of removing a leader from their current role. I4cp’s study also found that for GLD, consistency in program delivery on global basis, in combination with local customization, correlated to successful GLD programs.

Other key findings included that high performing organizations were more likely to define leaders by influence rather than authority (for example: by their ability to consider/adopt a point of view or excellence in work performance), and that GLD participants should be selected on behavior-based evidence rather than through recommendations by senior leadership or an employee’s direct supervisor. Close to two-thirds of respondents (both LPO’s and HPO’s) currently rely on these methods for selecting GLD participants. However, neither of these selection methods has been proven to increase market performance or GLD effectiveness. Instead, organizations should look to documented evidence of skills, competencies, and performance, when selecting participants, methods that have been correlated to market performance and demonstrate even higher correlations in GLD effectiveness.Evidence Graphic

I4cp’s study also suggests that organizations should develop GLD programs with a focus on the future. Several future focused practices for creating curriculum had strong correlations to both market performance and effective GLD:

  • Determining future-focused critical roles
  • Conducting an internal skills inventory to determine the longer-term gaps in critical roles
  • Identifying the specific skills needed in future-focused critical roles
  • Conducting environmental scanning to determine external skills shortages in future-focused key markets

Of course, as with looking at anything long-term, regularly reviewing assumptions is very important.

No one doubts that every day our businesses, our customers, our stakeholders are getting more global. And in most cases, they are getting more global at high rates of speed. What can explain the lack of speed and focus organizations are employing when developing global leadership competencies and effectiveness? With the current state of global worker demographics and educational readiness for employment in general, it is mystifying that leadership development programs in general – and global leadership development programs in specific – are not among the fastest growing and highest priority issues being dealt with.

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Use of Technology at Work: Counter-intuitive Findings

Data Point TuesdayA recent Pew Research Center report examines the impact that technology has on workers and provides some counter-intuitive data. “Digital Life in 2025: Technology’s Impact on Workers” looks at a representative sample of adult Internet users and the role or impact of digital technology on their work lives. The report helps to identify the role of technology in different areas of business, what certain workers find most valuable, and provides surprising perspective on the discussion of whether technology is keeping employees productive, or spreading them too thin and negatively pressuring them to stay constantly connected or “plugged in.”

Among online workers, the Internet and email are deemed the most important information and communication tools, though it may be surprising that social media was ranked very low in importance. 61% of American workers who use the Internet stated that email is “very important” for doing their job, while 54% said the same about the Internet. Only 4% reported that social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn were “very important” to their work.Email Importance

It may also be surprising that for online workers, landlines outrank cell phones in use and importance. 35% of workers surveyed say landline phones are “very important” to their work, compared with 24% who say the same about cell phones. Internet and email are ranked as highly important for those that work in traditional “office jobs,” and ranked as critical for the 59% of employed adults who work outside of the office at least occasionally.

Many reviews of the impact of technology today argue that technology can distract as easily as it can be used as a productivity tool. However, Pew Research’s data found that only 7% of online adults feel that their productivity has dropped because of the Internet, email, and cell phones, and 46% report feeling more productive. 51% of Internet using workers cited that the Internet, email, and cell phones notably expand the number of people they communicate with outside their company. 39% of online workers say that the Internet, email, and cell phones allow them more flexibility, and 35% say it increases the number of hours they work.

Impacts of digital technologyWhen it comes to the question of productivity, the vast majority (92%) of working adults say that the Internet has not hurt their productivity (including 46% of those who say it has not changed their productivity and 46% who say it has increased their productivity). Those in office jobs are twice as likely as those in non-office jobs to say that the Internet has increased their productivity.

Many employers are being proactive regarding the perceived tendency for the Internet to “distract.” 46% of workers surveyed state that their employer blocks access to certain websites, and have rules about what employees can say or post online (a figure that has more than doubled since 2006). Despite this, 18% of working adults report being unaware if their employer blocks sites and 27% are not sure if their employer has rules about what they can say or post online about their workplace. On the flipside, 23% of working Internet users report that their workplace encourages them to promote it online, and 59% say this is not something their workplace encourages them to do. Overall, Pew Research’s data show that more and more employers are implementing policies – “social media policies” – covering what employees can or cannot say about their employers online.Rules of online presentation

While we seem to read daily about the threats of digital technology from hacking and spam, phishing scams and warnings about loss of productivity and work/life integration, this data indicate that email remains just as important and used by American workers as when it first became of workplace tool, and is likely to continue to be a vital tool across the workforce. Pew Research Center’s report highlights that employee productivity may not be as negatively impacted by distractions from the Internet as some managers assume, but rather points to some other potentially problematic areas that organizations should be conscious of as they continue to increase their use of technology. Specifically, these concerns include the difficulty from employees in being able to “unplug,” as workers report the Internet and email are reasons for an increase in the numbers of hours they work. Additionally, organizations should check in with employees about their social media/internet policies. If they have policies in place, are employees aware of them? If organizations don’t have policies in place, giving thought about how to provide guidance to employees may be warranted – especially for organizations that are heavily dependent on technology and the internet.

More than anything else, this report should cause us to consider whether, in fact, email is truly dead – as many Millennial watchers believe; whether everyone is dying to use their smartphones at work, and how big a productivity threat popular social media sites really are. Admittedly, this survey’s sample was not enormous, but a 95% confidence rate might provide motivation to take a closer look at the impact technology is having on the productivity, work/life integration and lives of our employees.

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Social Recruiting: It’s All About the Mobile

Data Point Tuesday69% of recruiters expect competition to increase in 2015. The demand for highly skilled workers is on the rise, with no indication of plateauing anytime soon. With the fiercely competitive nature of talent acquisition, what can organizations do to make sure their recruiting and organizational talent management functions are up to speed? JobVite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey highlights trends, tools, and practices that are making a splash in recruiting effectiveness right now. The annual survey was completed by 1,855 recruiting and human resources professionals across most industries. To succeed in this hyper competitive market, JobVite found that recruiters plan to invest more in social recruiting (73%), referrals (63%) and mobile (51%). JobVite’s key message however, may be that recruiters won’t find just one platform that overwhelmingly wins the quest to engage with candidates. Rather, successful recruiting efforts will involve showcasing the employer brand and engaging with candidates across multiple platforms.

We’ve said it again and again at Great Place to Work®, and JobVite says it also: culture matters. When recruiters were asked what steps they take to compete against other employers, the #1 response was that they highlight company culture, followed by better benefits, and flexible hours. Dec 23 2014 Highligh Company CultureRecruiters stated that they would increase their investment in a number of recruiting platforms in 2014, with the biggest investment in in social recruiting (73%). This will continue be an important area of focus as organizations move into the New Year. Investment in Recruiting Platforms73% of recruiters report that they have hired a candidate through social media. 79% report that they have hired through LinkedIn, 26% through Facebook, 14% through Twitter, and 7% through a candidate blog. It’s also absolutely true that employers will review candidate’s social profiles before making a hiring decision, with 93% of recruiters surveyed doing so. Candidates’ social profiles carry weight, and unfortunately it appears more negative than positive. 55% of recruiters state that they have reconsidered a candidate based on their social profile (up 13% from 2013), however, 61% of those reconsiderations have been negative.

Postive Negative Neutral ChartSocial recruiting delivers results, so if your organization hasn’t seriously invested in this as a method for finding talent, it should be considered. Recruiters surveyed stated that since implementing social recruiting, quality of candidates has improved (44%), time to hire (34%), and employee referrals (30%). Despite the success of social recruiting, only 18% of recruiters consider themselves to be experts at social recruiting.

Social recruiting skill level chartInvesting in social recruiting doesn’t necessarily mean investing large sums of money either. 33% of recruiters surveyed stated that they don’t spend anything on social recruiting, and 41% state that they spend between just $1-$999.

Monthly Spending Graphic

JobVite also notes that recruiting is “going mobile” as much as every other B2C activity is. 51% of recruiters stated that they plan to increase their investment in mobile recruiting in 2015. They report using mobile across all aspects of recruiting, from posting jobs, searching for candidates, and contacting candidates, to forwarding candidate resumes to colleagues. Job seekers are heavily mobile too, but there is a disconnect between their mobile usage and recruiters. While 43% of job seekers use mobile in their job search, 59% of recruiters report that they invest nothing in mobile career sites. Those that are investing in mobile though, are seeing the benefits. Investing in mobile improves time to hire (14%), improves quality of candidate (13%), improves quantity of hires (19%), and improves quality/quantity of referrals (10%).

So. The lessons to be learned here for talent acquisition professionals are pretty simple: social, mobile recruiting provides higher quality candidates, reduces time to hire and increases employee referrals. Bottom line? It’s all about the mobile.

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Global Workforce Gender Diversity: It’s Not Happening

Data Point Tuesday

Focusing on diversity in the workplace is an essential step in building a great culture. Advancing gender diversity is a key focus area that organizations should look to, armed with the knowledge that there is still significant progress to make before most workplaces achieve true gender equality. Women are still significantly underrepresented at all levels in the workforce worldwide. Mercer’s 2013 Human Capital Report found that only 60%-70% of the eligible female population participates in the global workforce, while male participation is in the high 80’s. In a recent diversity study by Mercer based on 178 submissions from 164 companies in 28 countries covering 1.7 million employees, Mercer explores this issue and proposes solutions. Three key facts emerged from Mercer’s data:

  • Women continue to trail men in overall workforce participation and in representation at the professional through executive levels
  • Current female hiring, promotion, and retention rates are insufficient to create gender equality over the next decade
  • Current talent flows will move more women into top roles over the next decade but not in North America

Labor Force ParticipationHow can organizations change their approach to diversity in a way that effectively combats these gaps? Mercer’s study highlights the current key drivers of gender diversity, aiming to help organizations understand what drives diversity the most and help focus their approach.

The data show that organizations who have broad and holistic approaches to support female talent have more comparable talent flows for women and men than those who do not. Additionally Mercer finds that formal accountability has little significance on increasing gender diversity when removed from real leadership engagement. At organizations where leaders are active and engaged in diversity programs, more women are present throughout the organization, in top leadership roles, and there is more equality in talent flows between men and women. Another key driver of gender diversity is that active management of talent creates more favorable results than traditional diversity programs that are put in place to support women’s needs. Organizations that actively manage pay equity vs. making passive commitments ensure that women and men have equal access to profit and loss responsibilities, and proactively support flexible work arrangements driving gender equality at a greater rate than those with traditional diversity programs. Nontraditional solutions and innovative programs impact organizations long- term ability to retain female talent. Specifically, customized retirement solutions and health related programs have been successful in helping organizations to better attract, develop and retain female talent.

Mercer points out a disappointing statistic from the World Bank, which reports that global labor force participation rates for women ages 15-64 have actually declined over the last two decades. The discrepancy between female and male representation is even higher in top roles. Women make up less than 5% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, hold less than 25% of management roles, and just less than 19% of board roles globally. Since the 1980’s leap in pay equality for women things have since stagnated. Clearly new strategies are required. Making sure that women are equal participants in the workforce has broader implications than just fostering great culture. Economists have predicted that eliminating the gap between male and female employment rates could boost GDP in the U.S by 5%, in Japan by 9%, in the UAE by 12%, and in Egypt by 34%.

Organizations can take reports such as Mercer’s and use them as a roadmap. The key drivers of gender diversity listed there can easily be leveraged as a reference when identifying you own diversity strategies and areas of focus. For a more expanded list of ways organizations can create greater diversity, take a look at Mercer’s full report.

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Flexible Work Arrangements Fever

Data Point TuesdayHow would you describe flexible scheduling? Does a standard definition come to mind? In a new SHRM survey on FWAs (flexible work arrangements), which surveyed 525 HR professionals from a randomly selected sample of SHRM’s membership, “FWAs,” “flextime,” “workplace flexibility,” “flexible scheduling,” etc. are defined under the following definition: “… a dynamic partnership between employers and employees that defines how, when and where work gets done in ways that work for everyone involved (including families, clients and other stakeholders).” This seems a definition with an interesting amount of ambiguity to describe a practice that ultimately, is extremely different from company to company.

For organizations that responded as offering FWAs, 54% offered sabbaticals, 51% offered paid time-off for volunteer work, and 46% offered part-time/reduced hour schedules on a formal basis. Other FWAs were more likely to be offered informally.

FWA Options Graph

Additionally, among organizations that reported offering FWA’s, more than 50% responded that the following FWAs were available to “all or most employees”: paid time-off for volunteer work (82%), unpaid time off for volunteer work (72%), break arrangements (61%) a part-time transition after a major life event (58%) and flex time with “core hours” (54%). Fourth-fifths of responding organizations reported that 13 out of 17 FWAs were somewhat or very successful (80%-90%). The four FWAs that responding organizations reported finding less successful were unpaid time off for volunteer work (78%), phased retirement (74%), shift arrangements (73%), and sabbaticals (66%). Despite the availability of FWAs at responding organizations (both successful and less successful FWAs), the majority of organizations were likely to report that only 1%-25% of their eligible workforce used each of the FWAs offered.Success of FWAs

If an organization does offer flexible work arrangements, how are their employees finding out about these programs? According to SHRM’s survey, responding organizations that offered at least one type of FWA indicated employees most often learned about their organization’s FWA options from:

  • HR staff (15%)
  • Employee handbook or policy and procedures manuals (18%),
  • During orientation/onboarding (19%)
  • Line manager/supervisors (27%)
  • During the recruitment or interview process (30%)
  • While on the job (50%)

SHRM’s data highlights not only the rise of FWAs within organizations but that they are an increasingly desired organizational practice amongst employees. 32% of responding organizations indicated that requests for FWAs at their organization had increased in the past 12 months, while only 3% indicated those requests had decreased.

SHRM’s data also indicates that telecommuting as an FWA option offers potential increases in employee productivity. Of the 39% of responding organizations that indicated they offered employees the option to telecommute, one-quarter indicated the productivity of employees who were previously 100% onsite increased, and one-third indicated absenteeism rates had decreased. When SHRM asked organizations about changes in FWAs and telecommuting over the next five years, the overwhelming majority of organizations stated it was somewhat or very likely that FWAs (89%) and telecommuting (83%) would be more commonplace in five years. Nearly half (48%) of these organizations stated it was somewhat or very likely that FWAs would be available to a larger proportion of their organization’s workforce in five years, while 39% indicated it was somewhat or very likely that a larger proportion of their organization’s workforce would be telecommuting.

SHRM’s FWA survey points to a number of important take-aways for organizations’ flexible scheduling policies, such as the reported positive impact of FWAs on productivity, job satisfaction, retention and employee health. This indicates that more organizations could benefit from offering FWAs, and those that already offer these options may find themselves with a competitive advantage. Despite the positive outcomes of flexible work arrangements, SHRM’s survey also highlights the low level of utilization by many employees. Organizations should make sure the decision to not partake in FWAs does not stem from job security fears, or culture perceptions that may make using FWAs seem like career limiting moves. Managers must remember that as employees are most likely to learn about FWAs on the job, their role is vital to the success of FWA programs. HR needs to ensure that managers are aware of all available FWA options, have proper training on how to inform employees about FWAs, and that they “practice what they preach” by utilizing such programs themselves.Next 5 Years Graph

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