Workplace Trends surveyed over 1,000 professionals as well as 116 HR leaders to understand their views on workplace flexibility. Here are five surprising statistics according to their study.

  1. 67% of HR professionals think that their employees have a balanced work-life, yet 45% of employees feel that they don’t have enough time each week to do personal activities.

Luckily, there are a lot of options to help improve work/life balance for employees. Whether the goal is to improve retention, health and productivity, or to reduce absenteeism, there are many reasons employers want to work on having a good work/life balance for everyone at the organization.

  • If possible, allow employees to work from home every now and then. Consider whether a couple of times per month would be right for your company and its employees. Also, consider allowing certain meetings to be attended remotely rather than in person.
  • Promote breaks throughout the day. Encourage employees to take lunch breaks and several ten minute breaks throughout the day. Taking breaks has been shown to actually increase productivity levels, which could mean employees won’t have to work late.
  • Restrict hours worked. This means having a culture in which employees are not expected to work, or be available, after they leave work in the evening. It can also mean restricting how many hours are expected of any employee in a given week.
  • Consider expanding the number of vacation days available. Also consider giving extra vacation time as a form of incentive.
  1. 75% of employees ranked workplace flexibility as their top benefit.

Given that statistic, we can gather that workplace flexibility plays a huge role in employee retention. The longer employees stay at a job, the more skills they acquire which can provide more momentum for your company. In addition, if employees are often leaving for greener pastures, it’s said that you’ll spend the equivalent of around two month’s worth of salary just to find and onboard their replacement. Businesses that have to consistently replace employees will eventually find out how badly it can affect their bottom line.

When you focus on employee retention, not only do you wind up with a team that knows how to do the job well, but you also get to hold onto hard earned money.

  1. The top benefits organizations saw in their work flex programs were improved employee satisfaction (87%), increased productivity (71%) and employee retention (65%).

Most organizations strive for employee satisfaction, but some come up short. That’s why it’s important for human resources professionals to learn more about the factors that can increase employee satisfaction, and how it fits into a company’s overall success.

  • Lower turnover. As mentioned, this can be one of the highest costs for an HR department. Also, retaining employees can help create a better workplace environment and make it easier to recruit quality talent in the future.
  • Higher productivity. Employees who report high job satisfaction tend to achieve higher productivity.
  • Increased profits. Keeping employees happy and satisfied can lead to higher sales, lower costs and a stronger bottom line.
  • Loyalty. When employees feel the organization has their best interests at heart, they often support its mission and work hard to help achieve goals. They also may be more likely to tell their friends, which aids in a positive company culture.

It doesn’t take much extra effort to keep employees happy. By making an effort to work toward this, you will be building a stronger and more stable future.

  1. The biggest concern for employers who establish flexibility programs is potential employee abuse of the system (42%), followed by it not being part of their culture (40%) and concerns about employee fairness (34%).

Employers can help ensure that both they and their workers reap the benefits of flexibility programs by being aware of some of the most common problems associated with these plans and how to avoid them.

  • One of the most common mistakes that companies make when establishing flex plans is insufficient communication with employees. Seek input from employees on their needs as your work plans are in development. Assess whether or not the new work arrangement is appropriate for their type of work. The best arrangement is one that addresses employees’ personal needs, and at the same time addresses the company’s needs to provide quality services.
  • An individual’s work style should also be taken into consideration. Employees who have shown an inability to work well independently would likely not be ideal candidates for working from home.
  • Inconsistent application of informal policies can cause resentment, loss of employees and even legal action. Develop and prepare a detailed written policy on flexible work plans to ensure there’s no confusion.
  • After a flexible work program has been established, take the time to talk to your employees about expectations, and keep the lines of communication open. When initiating a new program, be on the lookout for things that may not be going according to plan. Advise employees that if the arrangement turns out to be unsuccessful, prior work hours will need to make a comeback.
  1. In 2014, of the companies that knew how much they invested in their work-life benefits programs, 60% spent under $20,000 and 29% spent more than $40,000. 53% of these companies plan to invest more in their programs in years to come.

Because work-life balance is being addressed more today than ever, organizations are beginning to invest more in flexibility programs. Are you competitors jumping on the work flex bandwagon?

In order to be a relevant employer in the future, companies have to get serious about workplace flexibility. Employees and employers both should come together to create plans that are mutually beneficial for each other.