The words flexible work conditions can be defined in many ways, depending on who you ask. What appears to be a flexible work environment for one person may not be for another. So, in thinking about the word flexible in the context of the workplace, is it a case of what's being offered to employees in the way of perks or benefits or the employer's culture? We think it's both.
Without a culture that propagates collaboration, open-mindedness, and transparency, flexible work options are not likely to exist. When organizations attempt to bring programs into cultures that have not been primed with a solid foundation to support the programs, they most always fail. This holds true when incorporating benefits or perceived flexible options into a workplace unable to sustain in the long haul or can only weakly accommodate present and future employees.
2020 started a worldwide tsunami of turmoil with 2021 continuing the havoc of a pandemic and the insurmountable issues that accompany it. In this mix is the current state of the workforce and the toll the turmoil has taken on employers and employees.
Many employees have been forced to relocate their workspaces into areas previously used as home space. This along with the isolation of working remotely and adjusting to a new “normal” has taken a toll on many people. With this in mind, employers need to step up and be supportive in ways that may not have been a priority in the past.
Health and wellness has come to light as a priority and with that technologies that support in this way have been called upon to up their game with advanced ways of accessing health and wellness assistance. This uptick in demand has drawn the attention of employers and forced them to re-evaluate their current wellness benefits in lieu of advanced technology and more encompassing wellness programs.
In general, women have had insurmountable obstacles to hurdle in the workplace, and the current state of the world has only added more challenges.
According to the 2020 McKinsey & Company Women in the Workplace report, researchers discovered that working women fared poorly under the challenges of Covid-19. They further report that women of color fared the worst of all, suffering from layoffs and furloughs. In addition, they followed the trend of female mobility in the workplace, and based on their findings, upward mobility for women was no better in 2020 than in 2015.
The bigger picture here is that lack of upward mobility, equal pay, which is still an issue when compared to male counterparts, suppression to be allowed a strong voice, and inflexibility to recognize the need for diverse opinions are all major factors in employee retention.
In addition to many working individuals and families still figuring out childcare during a pandemic, another serious issue has arisen. As the U.S. life expectancy rises, more and more people face caring for an aging relative and balancing childcare needs while working as full-time employees.
According to an article in HR Executive, "61% of working caregivers said helping loved ones has impacted their employment situation, and 53% reported going in late, leaving early, or taking time off to accommodate care." This means that over half of the working population struggles to work while providing care to loved ones. The mental stress and added duties take their toll, with some people leaving the workforce entirely to be an elder caregiver.