Flexibility is a relatively new concept in the workplace. In the relatively recent past, employees had virtually no flexibility and few options or choices to speak of regarding work hours, time off, and telework. They went to work, did what their supervisors told them to do, and that was the extent of it.
In the era of computers and a more permissive and inclusive workplace, the concept of flexibility has grown as companies and federal agencies seek to hire and retain talented workers and keep them happier and more productive.
Recently, Gallup published the State of the American Workplace report using data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees via the Gallup Panel and Gallup Daily tracking in 2015 and 2016, and more than 31 million respondents through Gallup’s Q12 Client Database. First launched in 2010, this is the third iteration of the report.
The report stated, “Gallup consistently has found that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job. Employees are pushing companies to break down the long-established structures and policies that traditionally have influenced their workdays.” Gallup consistently found that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job. Employees are pushing companies to break down the long-established structures and policies that have traditionally influenced their workdays.
Flexibility: The Key to Combating Burnout
Another recent Gallup study found that employees are 43% less likely to experience high levels of burnout when they have a choice in what tasks to do, when to do them, and how much time to spend on them.
Anyone with a Department of Defense background, be it civilian or military, knows how difficult it has been for many DoD supervisors to relinquish control and embrace flexibility. In order to keep up with a rapidly changing job market and a culture shift towards more employee flexibility and autonomy, even the Department of Defense has had to change the hardline mindset of the past and adjust to the needs and wants of a younger workforce.
Millennials value their freedom and have a strong desire to have a say in how and when they do their work. There are obvious limits, but depending on the type of work and where it is done, now more than ever there are increased options for flexibility.
Recent polls and studies demonstrate the trend toward expanding options and increasing flexibility for government and private sector organizations is on the rise. It is up to each organization to find their comfort zone and work with staff to find areas where they can be more flexible and increase employee job satisfaction and retain valuable workers who bring skills and enthusiasm to the workplace because of it.