Workplace Flexibility: 3 Ways to Keep Employees Happy

One of the biggest workplace trends is creating flexibility for employees.
Personal Branding Expert, Millennial Branding
May 15, 2012

The company culture you build has a major impact on how successful the business will be as it grows. One of the biggest trends in the past few years is workplace flexibility.

A new study by the Families and Work Institute shows that more than 75 percent of employers now offer some form of flex time. This number is up from two thirds in 2005.

In addition, 63 percent of companies allow employees to work from home at least sometimes, which is up from 34 percent.

Despite the trend, some managers are giving their employees les flexibility and work-life balance. The problem is that technology puts workers on call seven days a week, and even on vacation days. The global economy means that employees are making phone calls late at night to China and Japan. Only 52 percent of employers offer breaks for personal time compared to 73 percent in 2005.

But smart employers create an environment of trust and make people accountable for their work. To remain competitive, companies will have to create flexibility programs. That's how they'll attract and keep the best talent, and help them grow into the next generation of leaders.

There’s a reason why everyone wants to work for Facebook, Google and other startups: Those companies create an environment that makes people happy.

Here are three ways to change your workplace for the better.

1. Give Unlimited Vacation

Most companies give workers between two and six weeks of vacation a year. Some employers allow you to carry over days and others give more days to people who have worked there longer.

Hubspot, a Boston-based company, gives employees unlimited days. The inbound marketing-software company expects that its employees will be responsible with the time they take off. Management trusts that employees know that they have a lot of work to do.

A study by CareerBuilder found that 12 percent of participants say they feel guilty that they’re not at work while they’re on vacation. When you don't keep track of vacation days, it’s easier to manage and your employees have more freedom and flexibility in their lives.

2. Allow Work From Home

A Cisco study shows that 70 percent of students and young professionals think that heading to the office isn’t necessary anymore. A good 45 percent of the U.S. workforce has a job that’s suitable for telecommuting, and more than 34 million people work from home occasionally.

You don’t have to see their face every day to be sure that they are doing their job. As long as they check in with you periodically, show up to conferences and on conference calls, it’s more than acceptable for most work situations.

3. Create Social Events

Autodesk has nights out after working hours. The informal events attract 20 or more people to play video games, eat and talk with each other. The company also has larger events with karaoke.

By creating social events, you're making work a part of your employee’s life. The events become an opportunity for networking, building trust and making people feel like they are part of a team.

The closer your team is, the easier it will be to get work done, increase productivity and make work enjoyable for everyone.

Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management-consulting firm. Subscribe to his updates at Facebook.com/DanSchawbel.

Personal Branding Expert, Millennial Branding