The pandemic continues to drive a seismic change in the world of work, transforming where, when and how much we work, and the value of work in our lives. For some of us, our work-life balance has shifted, with a renewed focus on family time and personally fulfilling activities.
We’ve heard plenty about employers paying more to compete for talent, but many employees are looking at more than their paycheck when it comes to overall compensation. For many workers around the globe, the experiences of the past 18 months have swung the pendulum away from money and toward more flexibility and personal time off.
Workers value having more time and energy for other activities and don’t want to give that up. A recent PwC Workforce Pulse Survey found that one-third of employees said they would trade a portion of their future earnings in exchange for paid time off to volunteer for a cause of their choice, and 44% said they would give up a pay raise percentage if their employer provided unlimited vacation time.
For some employees, being able to work remotely is even worth a pay cut. Many Americans say they would take reduced salaries, give up days off or put in more hours for a job that offers a fully remote option, according to a recent Bloomberg survey.
Getting Creative With Flexibility
Some companies around the world have been experimenting with a four-day workweek, a newer concept that was rarely talked about pre-pandemic but is now gaining traction. Companies to try this include Kickstarter, Unilever New Zealand, Microsoft Japan and Shake Shack. Buffer even gave employees an extra day off each week without cutting pay.
Other organizations are offering alternatives to a traditional 9-to-5, five-day workweek that include a 32-hour workweek, 10-hour shifts four days a week and arrangements that let employees alternate between weeks of five nine-hour days and ones with four nine-hour days with a day off every other week.
While some employers worry that flexible work arrangements could lead to lower productivity, others are finding that not to be the case. Microsoft’s trial in Japan led to a 40% improvement in productivity, measured as sales per employee.
At McCann Partners, our team is a fully remote blend of full-time and contract workers. During the pandemic, several members of our team changed their schedules from a traditional 9-to-5 workday to accommodate remote schooling for their children. It was a common challenge to see parents trying to balance work commitments while also juggling remote schooling schedules. We’re proud to also partner with organizations that adjusted hours to support internal contractors as well as full-time employees, to help ease work-life integration.
Employees also enjoy the flexibility of remote work to take a lunch hour — or other breaks in the day — to run errands, do things around the house, fit in a workout, schedule appointments, etc. They also greatly appreciate the time they gain by not having to commute.
In so many ways, time really is the new currency. Leverage this concept when competing for top talent, understanding that flexible work arrangements can help you recruit and retain workers.
Consider these five tips:
1. Understand your employees’ needs. Many of us are exhausted from surviving a global health crisis. Acknowledge the turmoil of the past year and a half, and recognize that everyone has had to adjust and adapt to changing circumstances. Some of your employees may have emerged from the pandemic with different needs. Find out what they are.
2. Support a healthy work-life balance. Help employees achieve a better work-life balance by offering caregiving flexibility and time for personal development. Give your employees time to pursue meaningful and enriching activities such as community service and volunteering.
3. Make the workweek meaningful. Don’t make your team survive another meeting that could have been an email. Pare down the workweek to make every hour count. Think about reducing meetings and capping them at 30 minutes.
4. Cultivate a caring company culture. Flexible work arrangements are successful in organizations with motivated employees and managers who trust them. Revisit your company values and employee benefits to see if they are still relevant in today’s market. Reflect and reimagine your company culture.
5. Make flexibility a selling point. For employers, flexible work arrangements lead to happier employees. This is a recruitment selling point that appeals to young parents, Millennials and Baby Boomers. Attract talented candidates by promoting your organization’s flexibility.
The pandemic has changed us all and the workforce will never be the same. What workers value in an employer has shifted in profound ways and savvy leaders are adapting accordingly. To attract and retain top talent, think beyond pay and recognize that time is priceless.
“Time is the New Currency: 5 Tips to Recruit and Retain Employees” originally appeared on Forbes.com.