Increasingly, male employees expect flexible work programs; and they’re more likely to choose companies that have them.
Flexible work options aren’t just for female employees. According to new research, men—particularly millennials—are demanding flexibility. In fact, while women are 20% more likely to look for a new job in the next three years if their employer doesn’t offer flexibility, men are 30% more likely to do so. Flexibility and diversity aren’t just novel trends. According to a 2018 survey, 98% of companies have some type of gender diversity program; and both men and women rated flex-work models as an effective intervention to increase diversity.
Consider these steps for a diversity/flexibility program that works:
- Make sure that flexible work opportunities don’t hurt employees’ chances for advancement. Make it clear in your words and actions that workers won’t be penalized for seeking flexible work opportunities. Establish and promote ways for workers with flexible schedules to have access to promotions, special assignments/projects, and opportunities to travel or relocate.
- Include employees in policy development. Get everyone’s input on what a work flexibility program should look like.
- Be flexible. Try to offer a variety of ways for employees to work flexibly, from part-time and remote opportunities to job-sharing and non-traditional schedules (such as 9—3 shifts for working parents or 7—3 or 10—6 shifts for those with long commutes). Consider offering longer breaks that enable workers to run errands or handle family responsibilities and return to work.
- Track the program’s success. Make sure it works in action as well as in theory on a daily basis. Seek feedback from employees and managers, and adjust the program and policies as necessary. Establish and monitor metrics such as absenteeism, turnover, customer/client complaints/satisfaction, etc.
- Make sure the program is available to both men and women. There shouldn’t be any bias regarding the terms for a flexibility request and no judgment on the part of managers. If employees feel like they are judged or penalized for requesting flexibility, they are less likely to ask for it and more likely to seek employment elsewhere.
- Get top-down buy-in. Ensure that leaders at all levels understand the value of the program and its benefits for the organization. Encourage and enable them to participate as appropriate.
Clearly, flexibility is not one-size-fits-all. However, working with your employees, understanding and addressing their needs, and ensuring that any program benefits the organization as well as workers can result in flex-work that everyone can embrace.