Ah, the elusive work-life balance! Everyone wants it – especially Millennials. That means if companies have any hope of snagging top talent, they must offer flexible work schedules. But these nebulous terms can strike fear in the hearts of hiring managers and HR. What constitutes a flexible work schedule, and how do you enable work-life balance when it’s different for everybody?
Studies abound on the value Millennials place on flexible work schedules. Forty-five percent choose workplace flexibility over pay, according to Millennial Branding. In a recent study by Workplace Trends, 75% of employees listed work-life balance as their top priority. And according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, flexible work hours comes in second behind only training and development as the benefit Millennials value most.
Fortunately, allowing flexible work schedules is beneficial to the companies that offer them as well as their employees. According to one survey by Plantronics, workers who have the freedom to choose when and where to work are 12% more satisfied with their positions and 40% more likely to be innovative employees.
Making Flexible Schedules Work
In this Inc.com article Top Ways Companies Are Giving Employees More Work-Life Balance, John Boitnott writes, “Not only do employees and managers think differently about work-life balance, but so do companies in general. There are no hard and fast rules for business leaders planning out different ways to help employees stay on task, all while technology provides new options for flexibility.”
Employers would be wise to embrace technology to enable flexible work schedules, as PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that 59% of Millennials report that an employer’s provision of state-of-the-art technology was important to them when considering a job.
One technology that is well suited for enabling flexible work schedules – particularly amongst Millennials – is video. A video collaboration solution can be used on either a desktop or a mobile device, enabling employees to keep in touch and collaborate regardless of where they happen to be. What’s more, video is a technology that Millennials are already comfortable with. According to Google, 98% of 18- to 34-year-olds reported using smartphones to watch video.
To help employees establish work-life balance, Boitnott suggests allowing them to work on side projects during work hours. “Personal projects give individuals more freedom to decide not only on where or when they work, but also how and what they work on,” he writes. This may be a tough one for management to swallow – unless they’re assured that employees remain accessible. With video, managers and employees can connect at the touch of a button. And, unlike a voice call, video enables participants to see one another. This can help reassure managers that employees are engaged in the conversation.
Regardless of the choices employees are given, it’s important that companies are clear about their flexible work policies. Boitnott writes, “Programs that are documented with specific rules and times for in and out-of-office hours can help. All employees, whether upper management or lower-level, should play a role in forming those programs. Everyone involved should revisit them and continuously define exactly what work-life balance looks like at their organization to avoid any disconnect.”
HR and hiring managers can also use video to communicate flexible work policies and promote work-life balance. HR can record videos that explain the policies, and employees can produce their own videos explaining how they achieve work-life balance in keeping with those policies. Giving new hires specific examples of how employees work and the choices they have in doing so can encourage compliance and help foster a flexible work culture.
Eyewear Retailer Uses Video To Support Remote Working
ALAIN AFFLELOU, Europe’s leading eyewear retailer, uses a Polycom video collaboration platform to give colleagues instant access to one another regardless of location. In addition to a work-from-home initiative, the company has more than 950 stores in France and Spain, and nearly 100 more in other countries. Human Resources Director Vanessa Mauree says video collaboration has had a profound effect on the widely distributed organization she oversees. She now stays better engaged with the three teams she manages throughout France.
The new capabilities have also made it easier for ALAIN AFFLELOU to improve and expand its work-from-home initiative. Teleworkers use video to stay connected with their in-office colleagues, Mauree says, even as they strike a better balance between work and family life.
Ultimately, the key to breaking through the elusive work-life balance is to establish transparency between employees, managers, and the HR department by clearly communicating with one another the needs and policies around work-life flexibility. Advocating the use of video technology can certainly play a role in keeping all of these groups in touch, engaged, and productive regardless of where they are.