How Can You Leverage Flexible Work Policies To Retain Talented Staff?

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The Great Resignation has affected 85% of businesses across the UK, use our top tips to help retain top talent with flexible working.

How Can You Leverage Flexible Work Policies To Retain Talented Staff?

The Great Resignation - The Big Quit, The Great Reshuffle, Quiet Quitting - has negatively impacted 85% of key decision-makers in businesses across the UK since the end of the pandemic.

Nearly every business in the UK has suffered from an overwhelming trend that's caused talented employees to quit their jobs. Some people have found work elsewhere, while others have moved into more interesting roles or started their own businesses to create a better work-life balance.

Alarmingly, 32% of employees who have taken part in The Great Resignation as a direct result of employers not being willing to accommodate their preferred hybrid work patterns. This lack of workplace flexibility in the hybrid workforce is driving resignations upwards, and making talent acquisitions more challenging for companies in all industries throughout the world.

Even though over 75% of UK employers do now offer hybrid work, it's not enough to successfully retain those workers who feel the overall flexibility offered is inadequate.

Hybrid work and flexible work are not created equal in several different ways:

  • Hybrid work models can insist employees work fixed days in the office, whereas flexible working allows people to choose when they have days off.
  • Hybrid work patterns can require employees to be available for fixed hours. Flexible working allows people to choose when they work.
  • Hybrid work policies can define the locations an employee must use, and flexible working lets people choose their preferred locations.
  • Hybrid teams can dictate who people must collaborate with each day. Flexible working lets people collaborate as needed.
  • Hybrid work schedules can outline which specific tasks should be worked on, but flexible working lets people work on the tasks that are most important to them at any given time.

The illusion of flexibility in hybrid work models can make people unhappy. In a survey conducted on 652 Apple employees, it was found that 76% of Apple employees are not happy with the hybrid work model offered, because it requires people to work fixed days in fixed locations. The result was an open letter to Apple's Executives which states that people want to choose their flexibility.

Employers need to leverage flexible and hybrid work policies to retain talented staff. Take a look at our top 5 tips for creating an employee-friendly flexible-hybrid work pattern below:

1. Show People You Understand Them

People buy into ideas when they feel understood, so showing your employees that you can empathise with their situations and have the capacity to accommodate them goes a long way towards strengthening your relationships with individuals in your team.

It's much easier to stay in a job when you feel like your employer 'gets you' than it is to take a risk on a new company that might end up being worse than your current job, so simply showing up and being there for your people will help to retain talented staff.

Ask your employees what they need and how you can best accommodate them, then actively strive to help them succeed in a flexible work environment.

2. Give People The Right Tools To Balance Their Key Stressors

Most people have predictable stressors, which come about because they're unable to feel fully in control of their day. These stressors include:

  • Feeling constricted
  • Struggling to communicate
  • Inability to collaborate effectively
  • Other people's demands pulling them in multiple directions at the same time
  • Responsibility to look after the needs of others
  • Pressures felt by juggling multiple tasks at once
  • Lack of sufficient rest, nutrition, exercise, and relaxation

Companies can help people to balance their key stressors by allowing as much flexibility as possible within the employment contract. If a person is allowed to choose when and where they work, they can easily juggle their responsibilities to meet the needs of their families while at the same time, perform well at work.

When people have the flexibility to collaborate as needed, they communicate more effectively, which lets them feel seen and heard within their teams. Improved communication reduces feeling overwhelmed by too many people asking for too many things at once, which helps people take on the needs of others without becoming bogged down by too much responsibility.

People who have excellent communication at work, with a flexible schedule that lets them take control of their days in a way that suits their needs are less stressed, which promotes better sleep, with enhanced energy for a greater work-life balance.

Give people as much flexibility as possible to plan their work day.

DuoMe's innovative scheduling platform takes the stress out of hybrid work by allowing people to collaborate flexibly. Online schedules auto-align based on where people choose to work, who they would like to collaborate with, which hours they can work each day, and which tasks they are actively working on.

3. Incentivise Loyalty Through Natural Reciprocation

Flexible workers in the cafe working through a topic

Reciprocation is a very easy way to build trust and loyalty. It's based on our human ability to return favours.

If you look after your staff, they will feel naturally obligated to look after you and will be less inclined to leave you in the lurch when their hybrid schedules no longer suit them.

Take the time to learn what your employees' lives look like outside of the office. Find out what they sacrifice to work for you, then work with the employee to design a flexible schedule that's more accommodating to meet their holistic needs.

Some people may benefit from having time off around the school drop-off times, while others may benefit from working a 4-day week or choosing their preferred work location each day instead of planning it weeks in advance.

Every person who works for you is different, so the best way to incentivise loyalty through reciprocation is to do something unique for each person.

Ask people how you can improve their daily experience with greater flexibility, then make a visible effort to accommodate what they actually need.

4. Help People To Feel Valued

One of the core struggles with working from home in a hybrid workforce is that some people can feel like a spare part that's lost in orbit. People who struggle to feel appreciated in the workplace are at greater risk of depression, which in turn leads to a decline in their ability to work productively.

When you extend flexibility to an employee, you're effectively sending a message that says, "we value you as a person, so we would like to make your working life as comfortable as possible."

This simple act of recognising employees as individuals - and taking steps to help them feel appreciated - sparks motivation and lets people feel like their contribution matters.

The key to flexibility is to tailor the flexibility offered towards individuals, rather than to just bulk-deliver flexibility through a blanket policy. If people feel valued as individuals, they care about their employers, and when people care about the people they work for, they choose to stay in their jobs.

5. Let People Create Their Opportunities

Flexible working is as much about choosing convenient work hours at a convenient location as it is about being allowed to think autonomously about tasks and projects.

When people are allowed to stretch their skills, collaborate freely, design new solutions to existing problems, and leverage their experience to help others, they can push the boundaries of their daily performance.

Talented people are likely to create opportunities for growth and development.

Look for ways to encourage active collaboration, and always listen to people's ideas. If you can learn from your employees, then both the company and the employee can benefit from the employment relationship.

When people have ideas that are unfeasible or difficult to implement, thank them for their input and help them understand why it's not possible, so they still feel encouraged to continue thinking about ways to improve their work performance.

Concluding Thoughts

The Great Resignation has had a significant impact on the workforce in all industries. Today, all businesses need to retain their best employees because talented people are the most difficult to replace.

People always take the path of least resistance, so if you make staying with your company easier than finding a new job or starting a business, then people will naturally feel more inclined to stay.

Flexibility needs to be holistic and tailored to individuals. Employees should feel like they're in control over when they work, where they work from, who they work with, and which tasks they wish to work on each day.

Furthermore, people need to feel valued and appreciated, so they can manage their daily stressors for a healthy work-life balance. When people feel healthy and balanced, they're likely to look for ways to improve their performance, which promotes continuous opportunities that benefit both the employee and the employer.

Flexible work policies start with asking the right questions, so that people can feel understood in a loyal relationship that promotes trust and reciprocity.

DuoMe specialises in helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to take control over the flexible workplace with nifty software that streamlines the hybrid work experience. Get in touch to book your free demo today!

About Author

Graham Joyce is co-founder of DuoMe, a flexible working advocate and a frequent panellist/commentator on the issues of flexibility or hybrid working.

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