• Gráinne Ní Ghiollagain

Flexibility in the Workplace

A couple of months back I was at a conference and I happened to stumble into a session on HR management and employee retention – a session that was likely geared towards CEO’s and HR managers - not the middle management millennial that I am – however I was enthralled!

Stephen Choo, the Senior Client Partner within Korn Ferry Hay Group captured my attention immediately – he spoke about the ways small to medium size companies within the meetings industry can attract and retain talent and compete against the massive multinationals out there – the googles and facebooks of this world! Of the many relevant points Stephen spoke about, the biggest one that stood out to me was ‘FLEXIBILITY’ He mentioned an extremely interesting stat – that 1 in 5 employees would be willing to give up 5% of their wage to work from home one day a week- 5%!!

Flexibility, for me, is one of the key traits millennials look for in their roles – and I am not the only one. PWC’s ‘NextGen: A Global Generational Study" found that millennials have a new approach to workplace productivity and flexibility. This generation does not believe that productivity should be "measured by the number of hours worked at the office" but rather "by the output of the work performed." what is more important, counting the hours an employee spends behind a desk or actually measuring the employees level of sales/client satisfaction?

I for one, am lucky enough to get the work from home one day a week – my role involves researching and prospecting new clients – by designating one day a week to wholly researching, I have found a massive increase in my productivity – without the distraction of phones ringing, emails pinging or even just general chit chat around the office. Now a days, remote working is growing more and more popular – A recent Gallup survey found that in the US, over 43% of workers spend at least some time at home – 43%! That is almost half! Now, I understand that remote working doesn’t work in all roles – so if remote working isn’t a possibility – flexible working hours should be, where possible, incorporated.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the events world – it is not a 9-5 Monday to Friday job – it can be all consuming, a 24 hour a day job if we allow it. But getting that right balance between work and life means not only will we retain the best talent in this field, but we can attract them away from the large multinationals. Another great study from Flexjobs found that 82% of millennials said they are more loyal to their employer if they have flexible work options. While the events industry may require 24 hour days around when events are being delivered, it is important to schedule in downtime after the events – before you burn out. Factor in time-in-lieu and use it.

My suggestion: Sit with your manager/employees and come up with a plan to see how flexible hours can be incorporated into your daily work-life. Have a presentation ready that shows how this will not just benefit you, but benefit the company – Be clear, concise and confident. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.

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