Feb. 14, 2011 (WorldatWork)--The higher an organization rates itself on flexibility offerings, policies and impacts, the lower the organization's voluntary turnover rate, according to a survey on workplace flexibility, released by WorldatWork.
This survey of more than 500 HR professionals and WorldatWork members found that flexibility is, in fact, flexible. Part-time schedules, flex-time and teleworking on an ad hoc basis top the list of offerings. These programs are each offered to some or all employees in more than 80% of companies, with 68% offering all three forms of flexibility. Other flexibility programs surveyed -- and found to be less prevalent -- include compressed workweek, job sharing, phased retirement, and career on and off ramps. On average, organizations offer six flexibility programs in varied ways to employees in varied positions.
With so many options for flexibility, the survey confirms that a comprehensive flexible culture reaps rewards in employee motivation, engagement and satisfaction. By asking respondents to assess their own perceptions of how pervasive the culture of flexibility was, organizations were categorized as having either developing flexibility cultures (64%) or established (36%).
In developing cultures, flexibility may take place on a case-by-case basis, there is no formal policy, and the structure is inconsistent across the organization. In established cultures, flexibility is strategic and viewed as an essential element in achieving organizational success, and there is universal access to flexibility. Those respondents with an established flexibility culture not only believe their programs to have a positive effect on employee engagement, satisfaction and motivation, but that belief is confirmed by data on voluntary turnover. Voluntary turnover data for established flexibility cultures are lower than in developing flexibility cultures.
"So the more organizations 'get' flexibility and make it a way of doing business, the more successful they are in the areas of engaging and motivating their employees," said Rose Stanley, practice leader at WorldatWork. "This is a good thing as the economy recovers and the competition for talent heats up."
Training was also a significant difference between developing and established flexibility cultures. Only 9% of organizations with a developing flexibility culture train employees on how to be successful with a flexible work schedule, whereas 32% of organizations with an established culture do so. In addition, only 12% of developing cultures train their managers on working with employees who have flexible schedules, compared to 37% of organizations with established cultures.