Does Your Company Offer Employees Flexible Work Options?

When it comes to a full time career, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

For most it may be a traditional 9 to 5 work day. However this tradition may soon be changing.

Canadian workplaces giving more flexible work arrangements is more common than you may think.

Everything from flexible working hours, remote work and compressed work weeks are considered to be a regular need at a workplace.

According to a recent survey by the Conference Board of Canada, almost nine out of 10 Canadian organizations are now offering at least one type of flexible work option.

"Employees value flexibility when it comes to when and where they work for a variety of reasons and demand for flexible work arrangements is likely to increase as the Canadian population ages," said Allison Cowan, the board’s director of total rewards and compensation research.

"Canadian employees are seeking a balance in work and family obligations, with many facing both childcare and eldercare responsibilities, and are looking to their employers for support."

The survey found that the top reasons for offering flexible work arrangements are to help improve employee engagement (62 per cent), respond to employee demand (42 per cent), and to help retain top talent (35 per cent).

Previous Conference Board research found that employees are more engaged when they have more control over how work is done.

Yet, despite interest in flexible work options, reported participation rates vary.

While the majority of eligible employees make use of ad hoc remote days, flexible working hours and summer hours, less than 40 per cent of eligible employees make use of other options such as job-sharing, full-time remote work, and a compressed workweek or compressed days.

Employers also have a number of obstacles that make implementing flexible work options hard.

Some examples include management resistance (64 per cent), concern over productivity losses (63 per cent), a lack of jobs suitable for flexible work (59 per cent) and lack of technology available to them to accommodate offsite work (30 per cent).

While concern over productivity losses is a major concern, a little over a third of organizations believe that employee productivity is positively impacted by flexible work arrangements.

While most organizations allow managers to approve flexible work arrangements on a one-off basis, the survey indicated that only 21 per cent of managers and 14 per cent of employees receive formal training on managing flexible work.

The survey took into account 324 Canadian employers and was conducted by the Conference Board of Canada in June 2017.

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