I had a fascinating conversation with my friend Diane Mulcahy yesterday about my desire to help more women move into leadership positions and how companies can retain them. I went on and on about how challenging it is for working moms to manage a full time corporate careers while raising a family. My thoughts are that if more companies can create more part-time and flex-jobs, we might be able to retain this talented pool of workers. Diane stopped my in my tracks during my monologue and said “you know, this is not a problem for just working moms, but it is a problem for everybody in the workforce. We all want more flexibility in our careers to better manage our work and our life.”
Why aren’t more companies getting on the bandwagon to create more flexible or remote positions when study after study shows this is what employees want. In fact, studies show that companies that offer more flexibility have happier employees, that are more productive and stay longer. In fact, they are more competitive in attracting top talent. Why are we strapped to being in the office from 9-5 and measured by the hours we put in rather than our productivity and how are companies actually measuring productivity. So what is the problem…according to Diane and Krystal, it is trust.
Diane had a conversation with a business owner who told her that he was having a hard time attracting talent because they did not offer any flexibility in where or when their employees work. She asked him how they were measuring the productivity and where his employees where spending their time. Had they thought about looking at their calendars across the board to see where they are spending their time and how much of this time is spent in meetings and responding to emails rather than deeply ingrained in their work?
Diane wrote a fascinating article where she interviewed Krystal Hicks, the founder of Jobtalk about why companies don’t trust their employees. We are building a culture where we are required to hide when we are doing personal things while in the office but if we don’t have flexibility, when are we supposed to get our personal affairs done? If we can shift the focus and attention to productivity, why does it matter where or when we work? I own my own recruiting firm and work on my own hours. I was up at 5 AM drinking coffee and writing this article but why can’t other employees do this if they are most productive in the morning hours. And what if that same employee that got up at 5 AM to start working left the office at 3 PM and spent the afternoon taking their children to the park. Would he or she come back more recharged and ready for the next day. Their quality of life would probably improve along with heir overall happiness and productivity in the workplace. They also might be a more well-rounded employee when they have time to pursue their hobbies and spend time with family and friends.
So when it comes to recruiting and being able to attract and retain the best talent on the market, it may be time to start considering how you can differentiate yourself by offering your employees the trust they deserve by instating more flexible work policies. Start figuring out how to measure productivity versus time. It’s time for a happier workforce.