Pay raises are an obvious boon to employee retention, but what happens when a company can't afford to pay its employees more? How can they keep their key talent in place, especially when employee turnover can cost a company 33 percent of a worker's annual salary? One solution: These companies can make sure their employees’ flexibility needs are being met.

Recent research has shown that flexibility is more important than salary for much of the workforce. In fact, in a 2014 Unify survey, 43 percent of respondents said they would choose flexibility over a pay raise. "Employees are serious about flex work, said Unify Chief Marketing Officer Bill Hurley, per Forbes. "In addition to nearly half of all employees preferring flex work over a pay raise, nearly one-third said they would change employees if offered flexible work elsewhere."

In our own research, we found that the number of employees who would change jobs for more flexibility rises to one in two.

The flexibility-vs-salary trend is particularly striking among millennials. According to recent research from Qualtrics and Accel Partners, roughly 76 percent of millennials would take a pay cut of at least 3 percent to work for a company that offers flexible office hours, 37 percent would take a 6 to 12 percent pay cut, and 19 percent would take a pay cut of more than 12 percent. And as we previously discussed, flexibility ranks in the top three factors in the job selection process for both millennials and Generation Z.

Ideally, companies wouldn't have to choose between paying their employees the salary they deserve and meeting their flex needs. But for companies who are going through lean times, or are facing a culture transformation due to a merger or acquisition, flexibility can be a crucial driver of employee retention. Additionally, our research shows that when employees have access to a range of flexible options, they’re more productive—another win for a company's bottom line.