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How to Implement Workplace Flexibility to Improve Employee Satisfaction

How can businesses implement workplace flexibility, and what are the benefits that come from it?

Elle Mason

by Elle Mason - July 21st, 2021


Work culture has changed dramatically over the past few years, and Human Resources professionals have had to keep on top of shifting trends. The COVID-19 pandemic has made many HR experts rethink the idea of workplace flexibility. 

The focus is now through the lens of something positive rather than harsh and unfair working conditions that caused OSHA, USDL, and compliances to exist in the first place. 

So how could businesses implement workplace flexibility, and what are the benefits that come from it? We’ll discuss below:

Why Should You Give Workers More Flexibility?

Between the 1940s and 1960s, many psychology studies were done related to employee satisfaction and motivation. You may have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, created in 1943. It was the result of trying to understand what it takes to get people to do something of their own free will. 

If you don’t know all the steps of the pyramid of the hierarchy, no worries. Just remember that there are three basic layers:

  • The bottom is “basic needs.”

  • The middle represents psychological needs.

  • The top is “self-fulfillment.”

We will return to this information later, so remember it because it’s extremely useful to motivate a workforce. 

The second study/character that should peak your HR ears is that of Fredrick Hertzberg. Hertzberg was an American psychologist best known for introducing job enrichment and the Motivator-Hygiene theory [two-factor theory] into the business world. 

We will focus on the two-factor theory here, which suggests that employee satisfaction is related to two things:

  • Hygiene

  • Motivators

The hygiene section is important because it discusses benefits, one of which is flexibility. Having just one workplace flexibility benefit has been shown to increase employee satisfaction by 4.6%. 

Although small, this was the result of one singular workplace flexibility benefit! It may be a big enough decision factor to sway a new or current employee from leaving your company, which in turn could keep that high-value cash flow coming in.

How To Implement Workplace Flexibility

Give Your Employees Options

Although the hottest workplace flexibility benefit in all our minds right now is virtual or telecommuting, it’s not the only option that could be implemented. Most flexibility includes the axes of time and space. Here are a few flexibility options and what they include:

  • Complete virtual work – This model keeps the standard 9-5 hours, but work can be done anywhere as long as it’s appropriate security-wise and aligns with the correct time zones if necessary. Companies will need to ensure that these employees have the correct gear, such as a phone system or proper physical equipment needed for employee success. Developers would be a good example of someone who typically works this way. 

Hybrid models – With a hybrid model, some work occurs virtually and some in person at an office or specified work site with standard 9-5 work hours. A marketing manager would be a good example of this type of employee.

Flexible schedules – In this system, work occurs at the specified location; however, employees can work more days with fewer hours or fewer days with more hours. A barista would be a good example of this type of employee. 

Flex-time + flex space – This is the combo of everything; choose when and where work happens. A good example of someone who does this work would be a real estate agent. 

Giving your workers more control over their time may improve employee satisfaction by:

  • Decreasing burnout – Flexibility in working hours and location can help employees better manage their workload and improve productivity.

  • Increasing commitment – A lack of commitment to work is one of the main reasons people quit their jobs. By offering flexibility, you’ll likely turn your employees into loyal, valuable members of your team (and increase your business’ retention rate).

  • Improving work-life balance – Flexible working conditions allow workers to focus on what matters most to them, be it their family, hobbies, or managing their financial accounts while keeping them engaged with their jobs.

Consider Job Sharing or Part-Time Work

In our existence, we live in a three-dimensional world, and just like advanced calculus, now that we have covered options for time (X) and space (Y), we can introduce the Z factor. The Z, in this case, is the employee(s). 

Job sharing or part-time work are other options that can improve employee satisfaction. Part-timing is so common that explaining it is not necessary; we all understand that working fewer hours allows employees to do other things in their spare time, increasing job satisfaction. 

On the other hand, job sharing is the lesser-known and more judged sibling of part-time flexibility. Job sharing is taking one full-time position and separating it among two or more individuals. Don’t misconstrue this type of flexibility with an individual having the same job, for example, two coffee shop managers. It’s also not the same as a full-on team situation. 

Job sharing occurs when one particular job for one person is split in two. Let’s take an architect, for example, who is working on a house. They could complete that task all by themselves. But that architect is now getting old and wants to work less, but still at the same company doing the same thing. The solution here would be to share that role. Now, working on that house project is the original person and a second employee.

This architecture job could be split, so person #1 is working Monday plus Tuesday and then comes in on Wednesday for half a day to share updates with person #2. Person #2 then starts their week halfway through Wednesday and works Thursday + Friday. Job sharing can even occur each day – one person does half a day, the other does the second half. 

Although it sounds complicated, job sharing can boost employee satisfaction by giving workers the chance to share the responsibilities of a boring position. It keeps them motivated because they can look forward to a job switch halfway through the day or week. 

Results of Implementation

There are two sides of benefits that come from the implementation of workplace flexibility, those for the business and those for the employee. 

To employees, flexible workplaces will increase job satisfaction, bringing joy to their lives and opportunities that may not arise from strict non-flexible times and places. 

To the business, flexible workplaces with motivated workers see higher retention rates, reduced costs through virtual or hybrid work, less onboarding and less wasted time, and increased productivity. 

Happy workers have devotion to companies and take pride in their work. Although the topic of flexibility has become hot again with virtual jobs increasing, history has proved it successful in the 1940s-1960s. Will your company implement flexibility of time, space, and people into their benefits?