Employee satisfaction and well-being should be a consideration in any company’s hiring and retention strategy. However, with Millennials and Gen Z making up more and more of today’s workforce, facilitating work-life balance and offering greater work flexibility is quickly becoming a top priority for many employers.
What do younger employees value in the workplace?
In short, they’re looking for flexibility. According to Fidelity, 65% of younger employees named flexibility as the most important non-financial job benefit. Depending on the person or type of work, this can look different, but “flexibility” typically incorporates greater choice in how and when work gets done and growth opportunities. By allowing employees more freedom to customize their working experience, employers not only promote a healthier work-life balance but also demonstrate trust and respect for their employees as individuals.
The importance of job satisfaction
We’ve all had that job that made us miserable and did not value its employees. For many employees, a job like that doesn’t end up being long-term. According to Monster, 24% of employees are miserable and actively looking for a new job. Over a third report thinking about quitting their current job at least once a week. As for the younger generations, Microsoft reports that 52% of Millennials and Gen Z are considering changing jobs this year.
With a hiring landscape desperate for talent and candidates demanding new and expanded benefits, a successful retention strategy must prioritize job satisfaction, lest unsatisfied employees accept one of the many other job offerings. Lowering employee turnover can increase organization and productivity over time and save a lot of money and attention that would otherwise go toward the hiring process. Forbes estimates that replacing an entry-level employee costs 30 and 50% of an annual salary.
Work-life balance is a multidimensional concept with many benefits.
An article published by SHRM breaks up the idea of “work-life balance” into three categories: purpose & growth, well-being, and flexibility & choice, all of which play a role in the overall fulfillment an employee can achieve.
An ideal job would allow most employees to utilize their unique skills toward a meaningful outcome. Other company dynamics, such as opportunities for collaboration and workplace community, can further add to one’s sense of purpose. A strong connection to a job can make an employee more likely to stay, especially if their employer also offers a clear pathway for career growth internally. In fact, according to LinkedIn, employees tend to stay with one employer two times longer when offered opportunities for advancement.
At its most basic definition, well-being refers to one’s overall sense of emotional, mental, and physical wellness, and it’s only becoming a higher priority for today’s workforce. Monster reports that 69% of respondents value their well-being over a high-status job, and 51% value it more than a salary increase. Among many resources, employers can offer mental health support, childcare options, or incentives for maintaining a healthier lifestyle to increase employee well-being and demonstrate value and respect. Even for those who never utilize these services, knowing that support is available can go a long way for morale.
How to be more flexible
Workplace flexibility is “the willingness and ability to adapt to change, particularly regarding how and when work gets done,” according to The Balance Careers. As a result, adaptable, flexible employers can expect lower employee turnover and higher employee engagement. A major piece of flexibility is two-way communication and understanding. For the employer, this entails seeking and receiving feedback, assessing needs, and ultimately recognizing employees as individuals with unique lives and working styles. This often results in a more customizable, ongoing work schedule and structure, such as condensed schedules, non-traditional or sporadic work periods, or specific off-hours to accommodate other responsibilities (school, childcare, etc.).
Workplace flexibility has an immediate impact on employee satisfaction. With employees’ needs and priorities rapidly shifting, it’s vitally important for employers to simultaneously pay attention to their potential candidates and respond and adapt their workplace offerings accordingly. Increasing job flexibility is beneficial on countless levels. For employees, flexibility means better work-life balance, job satisfaction, and fulfillment, which ultimately amounts to greater retention, loyalty, and productivity for their employers.