Of all the reasons adopting structured flexibility is good business sense for your company, one of the biggest selling points is that it attracts and retains talented millennials, for whom flexibility is a major priority in their job searches.
In Werk’s research—a survey of nearly 1,600 white-collar workers in the U.S. across a variety of demographics and firmographics—we found that employees without access to flexibility are twice as likely to be dissatisfied, and half of these employees would leave their job for a more flexible alternative, whereas employees with access to flexibility have employee net promoter scores (eNPS) 48 points higher than those without.
And millennials are especially affected by the flexibility gap. We found that 97 percent of millennials need some form of flexibility at work but only 50 percent reported having access to the type of flexibility they need.
Additionally, the millennial demand for each of Werk’s six flexibility types was equal to or greater than the overall demand for the same types. Millennials were also more likely than the average respondent to say their current workday structure makes it difficult to perform optimally or sustainably over time, to feel inspired or energized by their workspace, to bring their whole selves to work, and to foster skills to develop in their careers.
In the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 84 percent of millennials reported their organizations offered some degree of flexibility, but only 39 percent characterized their work environments as highly flexible, and 27 percent reported low levels of flexibility.
The percentage of millennials able to work flexible hours—i.e. arrangements similar to Werk’s TimeShift™ or MicroAgility™ flexibility types—remained relatively flat year-over-year in that survey, increasing from 69 percent to 67 percent. But the percentage of millennials able to work outside their primary office locations—i.e. arrangements similar to Werk’s Remote or DeskPlus™ flex types—jumped from 43 percent to 64 percent, indicating that employers are understanding that technology can enable location variety or independence and that this kind of flexibility is indeed a facet of the future of work.
The millennials surveyed by Deloitte attributed greater productivity, organizational performance, employee engagement, and personal well-being and happiness to workforce flexibility—a finding that corroborates Werk’s research. (We also found structured flexibility amps workplace inclusivity and real estate optimization.)
Meanwhile, the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey found flexibility is among the top three factors in millennials’ job selection process. The survey also found millennials who can access high workplace flexibility are more loyal to their employers. In organizations in which flexibility has increased, 55 percent of millennials said they expected to stay in their current job for more than five years. In organizations in which flexibility has decreased, only 17 percent did—and 31 percent reported they planned on leaving their jobs within two years.
That said, Deloitte advises employers to examine which employees are receiving flexibility—as 69 percent of senior employees reported increased flexibility, compared to 40 percent of midlevel employees and 36 percent of junior employees. This type of examination is an especially important for retaining millennial talent—as midlevel and junior employees are, stereotypically, more likely to be millennials.
Because flexibility is so important to millennials, the gig economy has risen in appeal, with 39 percent of millennials saying they have joined or would consider joining the gig economy to work the hours they want to work, and 37 percent saying they have done or would do so to achieve better work-life balance. But as Werk co-founder Anna Auerbach writes, the gig economy is “often a failing proposition” due to “fluctuating revenue and a limited opportunity to turn social capital into a promotion.” That’s why Werk remains committed to building structured flexibility into full-time jobs.
That said, companies will want to adopt structured flexibility not just for millennials but also for Generation Z—a generation generally defined as the individuals born in the latter 1990s or later. Of the Gen Z respondents Deloitte surveyed in 2018—all of whom were born between 1995 and 1999—nearly two-fifths were already working part or full-time. That survey found flexibility ranked among the top three factors in Gen Z workers’ job selection process, as well. To attract and retain Gen Z talent, the Forbes Coaches Council recommends focusing on efficiency-boosting technology, demonstrating concern for employee well-being, and continue millennials’ momentum of work-life integration—and all of these goals align with Werk’s vision of a flexible future.
To pinpoint the flexibility gap in your organization or company—and to learn what flexibility types can help you attract and retain millennials and Gen Z talent—check out FlexMatch, an online assessment tool that assesses employees’ need for and perceived access to flexibility and provides insight into how they work best.