One of the responses to our recent survey that surprised me was how many people mentioned ‘flexibility’ as one of the things they liked about where they work. It was only 12 percent of respondents but when paired with ‘location’ represented a total of 20%.
‘Flexibility’ isn’t normally thought of as a motivator and may be difficult to define. What makes this intriguing is that flexibility came back in two recent company surveys I completed as something that employees wanted to see more of from their employer.
I suspect that the move away from the assembly line towards a knowledge economy has made employees question why they need to be at work exactly at nine and until five, and why they need to wear certain clothes at work. It’s made them question why they can’t work at home now and then, and why they can’t wear more casual attire.
We’re making the shift to a knowledge economy but are slow to lose the rigid trappings of an industrial economy and it is showing in employee attitudes.
If this is the flexibility that employees like and desire then it becomes very simple to implement in order to keep people longer or make them happier at work. After all, there is no assembly line that requires strict attendance or a uniform. Without it, what an employer should really care about is results.
It makes one question what employees are being paid to do. If they are paid just to show up, that’s all they’ll do. If they are paid to produce results and their employer can be a little flexible, then maybe work will produce better results.