The usual suspects of employee benefits – like retirement plans and health insurance coverage – remain critical to attracting and retaining top talent in today’s labor marketplace. But a new class of benefits also seems to be growing more important to a growing segment of today’s workforce.
We’re talking about benefits that give employees flexibility over their work experience. Remote working, for example, enables employees to work from home or a location other than the office. Similarly, flexible work arrangements give employees the chance to set their own schedules. Are these benefits the key to happy employees?
They are certainly becoming more common. According to The New York Times, the share of employees working remotely either four or five days a week increased from 24% to 31% between 2012 and 2016. That trend has continued: telecommuting rose by 22% between 2017 and 2018. Gallup says that nearly half of Americans (43%) spend at least part of their time working remotely.
Do these flex benefits make a difference in the office?
The growing trend of giving employees more control over their work location and schedule seems to have advantages. For one thing, it decreases operating costs – sometimes significantly. According to Forbes, Aetna allows about 40% of its workforce to work remotely. As a result, it reduced the amount of office space required sufficiently to save $78 million.
Performance may benefit too, at least in some cases. A report from technology services provider ConnectSolutions found that telecommuting boosted productivity: “Fewer distractions (for the disciplined remote worker) can lead to higher efficiency.” More than half of respondents to their survey indicated that telecommuting allowed them to get more work done in the same – or even less – time.
Will these benefits affect future recruitment?
Millennials appear to love flex benefits. According to IWG, which provides co-working space, “69% of millennials [would] trade other work benefits for flexible workspace options.” A different survey, this one from AfterCollege, a career network for college students and recent graduates, says that 68% of millennials would be more interested in working for employers that offer remote working options. A Deloitte study found that a lack of work flexibility is the top reason a millennial would quit.
That doesn’t necessarily mean these benefits are right for every employer, however. It depends on each organization’s unique workforce, situation, and business requirements. Flex benefits can be very advantageous in some scenarios, but these benefits can make coordinating and communicating with staff more difficult and can disrupt work-life balance. Further, success with these benefits requires workers who are disciplined self-starters who can thrive in an independent environment.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.