The term ‘workplace flexibility' has gained a lot of traction since COVID-19 hit. During the pandemic, both workers and employers were forced to maintain a level of flexibility based on company needs, family obligations, pandemic-related shutdowns and quarantines. Now, as more and more workers return to the workplace and the effects of COVID-19 are starting to subside, employers must re-evaluate what workplace flexibility looks like in a post-pandemic environment.
According to our recent survey with Ipsos, only 47% of blue-collar workers and 49% of white-collar workers are currently satisfied with the level of flexibility available in their workplace. Women in blue-collar positions have the lowest satisfaction rates with only 43% currently satisfied with the level of flexibility in their workplace. Our research also shows that more than one out of four blue and white-collar workers admit that lack of workplace flexibility could be a motivator to change jobs.
While many employers understand that workers crave more flexibility in the workplace, they are often confused as to what their employees really want. Some believe that flexibility refers to remote work options. While remote or hybrid work opportunities are certainly a key component, especially when it comes to white-collar roles, flexibility means so much more. In fact, our research revealed five benefits workers are looking for when it comes to workplace flexibility.
paid time off
More paid time off is the most important workplace benefit pertaining to job flexibility for blue-collar workers. This benefit is especially important to women in blue-collar positions, with 64% rating this as one of the most important parts of a job offer. Workers in Ontario are also more prone to seek out employers that offer more paid time off options by a margin of 41% to 51%.
However, workers aren’t just looking for more paid time off hours. They also want a greater level of flexibility to use these hours. For example, they want to be able to use this PTO to care for sick children or parents. In fact, 60% of white-collar workers and 58% of blue-collar workers want paid short-term family leave to protect them if they need to take an extended period of time off to care for family members.
As employees head back into the workplace, employers must re-evaluate their paid time off policies to ensure they still meet workers’ expectations in a post-pandemic workplace.
choice of preferred schedule
Many blue-collar workers realize that their jobs are not designed for remote work. So, rather than have the ability to work from home, these workers want to be able to choose their preferred work schedule. They want to determine if they will work day, evening or overnight shifts and whether these shifts consist primarily of weekday or weekend hours.
Most importantly, many of these employees want a permanent work schedule that allows them to effectively make plans in their personal and family life. The one exception to this is Anglophone workers, who are twice as likely to prefer rotating their work hours from week to week to meet their current needs. Additionally, 28% of blue-collar workers and 24% of white-collar workers want the option to work four days a week versus the standard five days.
Employers should look for ways to give their employees more control over their work schedule, whether they hire blue-collar or white-collar workers. This benefit is a crucial part of the job offer and can help to boost satisfaction rates among workers.
ability to set hours
Not only do workers want to have control over their work schedule, but they want to determine how many hours they work per week. While the desire for this benefit is significantly more predominant in white-collar employees (59%) than blue-collar employees (28%), it made the top five list for both types of workers.
White-collar employees want the freedom to set the number of hours they work each day based on their specific workload. They also want the ability to take a day off if they end up working longer hours the rest of the week. Blue-collar workers, on the other hand, want the ability to determine whether they work full-time or part-time hours.
Allowing your workers to set their own hours is typically easier for white-collar positions versus blue-collar roles. However, some employers who hire predominantly blue-collar workers are not limiting their workforce to full-time hours anymore. Instead, they are also offering part-time job opportunities. This factor cannot only help to increase satisfaction rates, but also improve overall hiring outcomes.
work from home opportunities
Since most blue-collar jobs cannot be done remotely, work-from-home options are predominantly a white-collar benefit. According to our Randstad survey, 42% of white-collar workers want the ability to work remotely at least on a part-time basis, while 39% want to work remotely 100% of the time. Male workers in blue-collar positions are most likely to want to work from home full-time, with 55% of these workers wanting to work from home 100% of the time.
It may be difficult for employers to take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to remote work opportunities. Instead, they will need to look at individual roles and duties to determine what tasks can be done remotely, and what duties must be done onsite. Work with your employees to develop a work schedule that aligns with both their needs and the company’s expectations.
leave of absence options
During the pandemic, many workers faced a multitude of challenges, including caring for aging parents, homeschooling their children, illnesses and quarantines. In some cases, these workers had to take an extended period of time off work to deal with these issues. During the pandemic, the government set up regulations to ensure these workers received at least a portion of their pay when they needed to take time off.
With the pandemic starting to subside, some of these regulations are no longer in place. This fact, however, has not deterred employees' desire to have the ability to take a leave of absence to care for themselves or a family member and still receive at least 50% of their current wages. In fact, our research shows that 14% of white-collar workers consider this an important part of workplace flexibility. Employers should take the time to update their current leave of absence policies, so employees know exactly what options are available to them.
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