Foster Healthier, Happier Employees With Flexibility

Professional services firm Mercer recently shared the results of their 2023-2024 Inside Employees’ Minds© Study where they found that while employees are feeling more positive in general, retention is still an issue. One in three of the respondents cited in the report said that they are considering looking for a new job.  

As companies strive to recruit and retain top talent, they might want to focus on a key finding of the Mercer report: “amplify well-being through flexibility”. More than ever before, employees are seeking benefits, schedules, and work arrangements that provide greater autonomy and work-life balance. Successful organizations are creating flexibility in many ways to gain an edge when it comes to attracting and keeping their workforce. 

Giving Employees Options About Where to Work

The past few years have rapidly changed attitudes toward remote and hybrid work. Employees greatly value the ability to work from home some or all days to avoid lengthy commutes, achieve greater work-life balance, and customize their work environment. Parents appreciate the ability to be more available for childcare needs as well.  

Workers also value the ability to set their own schedules, such as shifting work hours earlier or later in the day to accommodate family responsibilities. Flexibility around when employees need to be on-site can lead to greater autonomy, trust, and job satisfaction. When possible, giving staff this flexibility in managing their time boosts morale, well-being, and productivity.  

As competition for top talent increases, the ability to offer location and schedule flexibility has become a key recruitment and retention advantage. 

Valuing Time Away From Work

Employees increasingly expect and appreciate flexibility when it comes to paid time off (PTO). Rather than a traditional vacation policy with a set number of days, workers value the ability to take time off when they need it. Flexible PTO policies allow employees to take off for illnesses, mental health days, childcare, and other personal reasons without having to worry about running out of allocated vacation days.  

Employees also often prefer to take vacation time in shorter increments rather than weeks-long blocks. The ability to take a Friday off to enjoy a long weekend or take a couple midweek days for a short trip provides more flexibility in how workers use their PTO. 

Overall, flexible PTO policies lead to more engaged employees who can better manage their work-life balance. 

Personalized Benefits Packages

Flexibility is also important to employees when it comes to their benefits packages. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, workers appreciate the ability to select benefits that are most relevant for their personal situations. This is especially true when it comes to mental health benefits. With rising awareness of mental health issues and reduced stigma, employees recognize the importance of having access to counseling, therapy, digital mental health programs, and other mental health services. The past few years have taken a toll on mental health for many. Having the flexibility to utilize mental health benefits when needed, whether that’s a few sessions of therapy, regular counseling check-ins, or self-paced programs, is hugely valuable for maintaining well-being. 

The ability to tailor benefits like mental health care allows employees to get the support they need, when they need it, leading to healthier, more engaged, and productive workers.  

Ensuring Employees Can Thrive

Offering flexibility at work is key to supporting employees’ ability to manage their work-life balance. When workers have more control, whether that involves remote work options, flexible hours, adjustable PTO, or access to benefits, they experience less stress from the strain of coping with life’s stressors. Employees feel empowered to design their workdays in a way that integrates their personal and professional responsibilities. Removing rigidity and adding flexibility enables employees to be present both at home and at work when it matters most. This leads to more engaged workers who feel their well-being is supported. Employees who are given flexibility in their work life can better avoid burnout, achieve greater productivity, and feels more satisfaction with their job.