Organizations that fail to offer workplace flexibility are more likely to experience challenges in attracting, recruiting, and retaining talent, according to new insights from the IT research and advisory firm.
Remote and hybrid work is now a permanent fixture across a variety of industries, yet many IT leaders continue to struggle with workplace flexibility. This situation presents additional challenges in talent acquisition (TA) and retention, as potential candidates and current employees view flexible work models as a top priority when considering where they want to work. To improve TA and retention outcomes, organizations must consider the feasibility of flexible work options as the future of work continues to trend toward virtual. To support IT leaders seeking to balance both employee and organizational needs, Info-Tech Research Group has released its most up-to-date research on the topic of flexible work.
“IT excels at hybrid location work and is more effective as a business function when location flexibility is an option for its employees, but hybrid work is just a start,” says Jane Kouptsova, research director at Info-Tech Research Group. “A comprehensive flex work program extends beyond flexible location, so organizations must understand the needs of unique employee groups to uncover the options that will attract and retain talent.”
For some, the idea of moving to flexible work options may raise concerns about productivity, but the research shows that when it is properly implemented, flex work actually enables employees to be more productive at reaching business goals.
However, the firm also explains in the blueprint that a one-size-fits-all approach that fails to consider unique employee needs will not reap the benefits of offering a flexible work program, such as higher engagement or enhanced employer brand. Improper structure and implementation of flexible work programs can also exacerbate existing challenges, like high turnover, or create new ones.
To provide IT leaders with the guidance to develop and implement the right flexible work program for their organizations and employees, Info-Tech has created a clear three-step process. The process, which is included in the new blueprint, is outlined at a high level below:
- Assess employee and organizational flexibility needs. Step one asks IT leaders to identify key stakeholders and responsibilities, uncover the current and desired states of the organization, and analyze feedback to determine flexibility changes. Next comes identifying and prioritizing employee segments, determining program goals, and pinpointing the appropriate degree of flexibility for work location, timing, and deliverables.
- Identify potential flex options and assess feasibility. Step two requires creating a shortlist of potential options for each prioritized employee segment and evaluating their feasibility, determining the costs and benefits, and collecting employee sentiment for each potential option. Then, options can be finalized with senior leadership.
- Implement the selected option(s). The third and final step walks IT leaders through addressing implementation issues and cultural barriers, piloting the program and measuring its success, and developing a plan for program rollout and communication. Guidance for establishing a program evaluation plan and aligning HR to support the program is also provided in this phase.
The firm advises both IT and organizational leaders to consider every role eligible for hybrid location work. If onsite work duties prevent an employee group from participating, determining which processes can be digitized or automated is a great first step to expand flexibility as equitably as possible across the organizations’ roles and departments. Flexible work is an opportunity to go beyond current needs to future-proof an organization. A mutually beneficial outcome that meets employee needs and is viable for the organization can be achieved with leaders’ collective support of the flexible program, which determines the program’s successful adoption.