Global survey confirms it: Flexibility is key

'Businesses who want to remain competitive must consider remote working as an option'

Global survey confirms it: Flexibility is key

Almost two thirds of workers (58%) who work from home want a sea or tree change — and that’s putting pressure on employers to deliver even more flexible work arrangements.

The ADP survey, which interviewed thousands of people across 17 countries, discovered that seven in 10 (71%) would like more flexibility as to when they work, such as condensing hours into a four-day week.

And employers beware about forcing employees back into the office as two-thirds (64%) would consider looking for a new job if this happened, according to ADP’s report People at Work: A Global Workforce View, which states that many employees are contemplating relocating and a substantial minority have already done so.

“While the tides may be starting to turn in certain industries, we are still in the middle of a global talent shortage,” Tamara O’Sullivan, chief people officer, Compono, said.

“Businesses who want to remain competitive must consider remote working as an option. Not only does this attract a greater number of staff, but it significantly opens your talent pool for consideration and helps to foster a greater diversity of thought.”

Three in five (61%) Australian employers have had a candidate request an unrealistic salary in the past 12 months, according to a recent survey.

Focus on culture for in-person work

The ADP report also revealed that seven in 10 workers (71%) have contemplated a major career move this year, and there’s a sense that they’re questioning what job security means post COVID-19.

“Flexibility is a great retention tool,” Shelley Johnson, HR consultant, and founder at Boldside Consulting, said. “So, start with flexibility. Where possible, accommodate employee requests.  

“In instances where we want people to come into the office,  there should be a clear purpose and outcome. Simply saying ‘We need to be in the office for 60% of the week’ isn’t a solid reason. Rather, focus on why we need people to be in. If it’s to build culture, then make sure there are team-building activities on these days so they deliver the outcome.”

MIT Sloan found that an unhealthy culture is the most common reason people quit their job, said Johnson, so, if you want to retain your people, building a healthy culture has to be the number one priority. 

“Employees are most engaged when they have growth challenges. They want opportunities to learn and grow – not in an old-school sense.

“Employees also want to contribute to a bigger purpose. It’s about more than money and profit. They want to know their work is making a positive impact in the world.”

Moving to the country and/or seaside, along with logging in and out when it suits an employee’s timetable, means the role of employer is one of juggling priorities to ensure they not only retain talent but remain profitable.

Truly remote workers

If an employee wants to live and work remotely, particularly if they are abroad, it’s important to understand if you can do this compliantly, Jonathan Perumal, country manager, ANZ at Safeguard Global, said.

“Different countries and states have different working requirements and laws, so businesses need to ensure they can fulfil their obligations and consider working with a workforce management partner to help enable remote workers without the added stress.”

Secondly, it’s important to adapt culture to ensure remote employees feel included, he said.

“Simply taking employees out for a drink after a day in the office will no longer cut it – a global mindset needs to be adopted that supports employees no matter their location.

“Some great initiatives I’ve seen include offering new employees a week of paid leave to recharge between jobs or sponsoring in-person get-togethers for teams in different regions.”

Making connections

Concerns that employers may overlook remote workers in favour of their colleagues in the workplace are unfounded. In fact, the reverse is true: remote staff feel more recognized and rewarded for their efforts and supported in their careers.

Almost seven in 10 say they are paid fairly for their skills and role, compared with less than half of their peers in the workplace, finds ADP in its report.

“We are firm believers of hiring the right person for the job no matter where they live, and we have built our company by using people science to identify and match with those who are best suited to all three facets — the company, the team, and the role based on their attitudes and attributes — without being limited by their location,” O’Sullivan said.

“If no one came into the office, everything would be business as usual.”

However, there needs to be an “individualised strategy” in place, he said, “to allow for ‘connection’ both from a company and teams perspective across a remote-first company, as well as mental health  as we have seen from the effects of  COVID.”

Check out our software review of ADP here.

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