What’s more attractive – the power to influence others or the ability to control your own schedule? A recent study from The Atlantic cites that employees today value the latter. In fact, after health insurance, employees place the highest value on benefits that are relatively low-cost to employers, like having a workplace environment that’s more flexible with perks like more paid time off, telework options, and flexible hours.
Why? Because employees value autonomy – and fostering autonomy enables your workforce to have a say in how (and when) they work. Increasing workplace flexibility creates an environment where individuals can bring their best selves to the job; which ultimately yields happier, more productive employees. Here are five ways to offer a more flexible, productive and innovative workplace.
Flexible Start Time
Long, traffic-ridden commutes aren’t a productive start (or end) to anyone’s day. Allowing employees to adjust their work schedule to meet their needs communicates that your company and senior leaders value their time and effort. Ultimately, this recognition and understanding create a workplace culture that fosters happiness, productivity, and growth.
Exercise is an important part of staying healthy. All too often, employees who plan on attending a 6 PM spin class at 9 AM have given up on the idea by 3 that afternoon. Getting — and staying — motivated to workout is hard enough. Encourage employees to take a class mid-day near the office.
They’ll return energized and ready to tackle the latter half of the day. Or, better yet, organize a time for your team to work out together either at a formal class or a loose three-mile jog around campus. As a leader, demonstrating your commitment to your team’s wellbeing is paramount. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to bond outside of the office, beyond an annual retreat.
Channel your inner Josh Lyman with a Sorkin style walk-and-talk meeting. Discuss next week’s event on your way to get coffee, or simply spend some time outside. Breaking out of your regular routine will stimulate creative thinking and help attendants stay actively engaged in the discussion at hand.
Employees are too often faced with a false choice – should they take care of their health or their obligation? Corporate Director and author Nilofer Merchant discusses this point in one of our favorite Ted Talks, below.
Create a Work from Home Policy
91% of people who work from home feel that they are more productive. The results from Glassdoor’s 2015 Employee Confidence Survey echoed this sentiment, finding that after healthcare benefits, the most sought-after benefits were ones that improved work/life balance. It comes back to autonomy. Employees who feel they have control over their work schedule tend to feel more loyal to their current company, take fewer sick days, and work longer on a day-to-day basis.
This isn’t to suggest that working from home is the ultimate solution for the happiest, most productive workforce. Far from it, but providing multiple working options allows employees to find the best fit for them, linking autonomous choice back to increased productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction.
Autonomy is powerful because it communicates that you trust your employees to get the job done. Cultivating elasticity within a workplace can be challenging, but it begins by creating an environment where people can bring their best selves to work.
Most importantly, considering nontraditional policies like flexible start times, fitness breaks, active meetings, and remote work opportunities communicates that you are invested in employees’ health, wellbeing, and professional success. Who wouldn’t want to work for an organization like that?