The Importance of Flexible Work Schedules in Absence Management

DMEC Staff@Work

The Importance of Flexible Work Schedules in Absence Management

By Heather Luiz, CPDM

SVP Workforce Absence

Today, there’s a lot of talk about work-life balance. For most workers, the traditional 9-to-5, 40-hour workweek glued to a desk in an office doesn’t give them the balance they want or need.

The modern workforce is demanding more flexibility in terms of when and where work gets done. Employees want a job that fits into their life and into their schedule. They want to come in late so they can get in an early morning workout. Or they want to leave early so they can spend more time with their kids after school. They want to work from home on some days, so they can have uninterrupted time to finish a project. Or maybe they want to work late Monday through Thursday so they can take a three-day weekend to travel. As long as their work gets done, they want — and feel they should have — the freedom to decide for themselves how they do it.

Managers used to call these wants a “wish list,” but they ceased that nearly a decade ago. Now these expectations are the new reality that is requiring ingenuity and creativity from employers.

Millennials Are Driving Change

If there’s one group leading the charge toward more flexibility in the workplace, it’s Millennials. This generational group was born between 1981 to 1996 and grew up with technology that allowed them to do virtually anything, anytime, anywhere. To Millennials, work should be no different; they want their work to seamlessly fit into their lifestyle, alongside their other priorities; 63% of Millennials want flexible work schedules, and 50% want to work remotely at least some of the time.1

We need to care about what Millennials want because they make up the largest demographic in the workforce today. They’re our next generation of workers and leaders. Every industry must compete for the Millennial talent pool, and part of doing that is understanding how they prefer to work. Is your industry low on the list of preferred careers for Millennials? Then you have even more incentive to make your workplace more attractive. My industry of insurance is far down the list; only 4% of Millennials are interested in careers in the insurance industry, with its reputation for being conservative, stodgy, and stuck in its ways.2

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