In my experience, one of the worst parts of starting a new job is not being sure at what point you can ask your boss for flexibility. How hard and for how long do you have to work before they'll trust you if you ask to leave an hour early to go to a doctor's appointment, or to shift your hours so they're better aligned with drop off time at your child's daycare?
As a young management trainee during my first year out of college, I fielded lots of these questions from my new employees. "Can I switch my hours tomorrow so I can make it to my daughter's soccer game?" "Can I leave 15 minutes early each day so I can pick my kids up on time?"
They were always asked hesitantly, as if merely asking for some leeway might suggest they weren't a good employee. Initially, I didn't know how to answer these questions - surely I couldn't say yes to each request. What if other employees who hadn't asked thought these kinds of arrangements were unfair? So I sat down with my boss to ask what to do, and he gave me some of the best advice I ever got: "We're people first, employees second."
If you don't help your employees feel satisfied in their personal lives, they might show up to work on time, but they won't really show up. Better to have a parent leave 15 minutes early, happy they'll be on time to pick up their child, than keep them until the end of work hours and make them stressed and frustrated each day, worried they won't arrive on time.
And the research backs this up:
- A 2005 study conducted by Corporate Voices found that 95% of employees working in an environment where the manager is sensitive to work and personal life (including informal flexibility) felt motivated to exceed expectations, compared to 80% of employees in environments where the manager wasn't sensitive to needs for informal flexibility.
- The same study found that at Bristol-Myers Squibb, 71% of employees thought informal flexibility was 'very important.' For women, it mattered even more -- 78% of women said it was 'very important' to their staying with the company, compared to 65% of men.
What I was doing with my employees would be considered informal flexibility - making arrangements on a case-by-case basis, because the company cared about its employees, but had no official policy regarding flexible work schedules. And clearly, this informal flexibility is important and creates positive outcomes for businesses.
However, a lack of policy and/or transparency about the fact that the company values and offers flexibility is often what creates confusion and anxiety when someone begins a new job. Companies that speak openly about flexible work arrangements can see even more benefits: A Cisco study found that 64% of employees would opt for a lower paying job if they could work away from the office. (If you need more data to persuade your company to implement workplace flexibility, check out the business case Deloitte lays out here.)
And if your current company is a lost cause, check out these 8 companies hiring now in the Philly area that are leading the way with workplace flexibility - a new declaration of independence, if you will, that will help revolutionize the American workplace.
Companies Leading the Way with Workplace Flexibility:
PromptWorks builds custom software for companies who care about the details.
PromptWorks offers monthly work-from-home flexibility. They also offer ergonomic work stations including seated & standing pair programming stations, FSA and commuter benefits, and twice weekly family-style lunches... so you may find yourself eager to get to the office, but still, it's nice to know you have the option to work from home.
Scout is dominating the Strategic Sourcing market of the enterprise Procurement software landscape.
At Scout, they believe that because you spend more time with your co-workers than with almost anyone, they should probably be awesome... but in case you get sick of them (or have other people who need your love & attention), they offer a flexible work schedule and generous PTO policy. For all the other days you do have to go into the office - they offer transit benefits as well as weekly lunches and a well-stocked kitchen.Now Hiring in Philly: Senior Enterprise Account Executive
At Deloitte, "Agile working means successfully managing the many demands of our work and personal priorities, while meeting our clients' high expectations within a challenging service environment. By making space for the different facets of our lives - our family, personal and social commitments, as well as our careers - we strengthen our ability to reach our full potential."
How do they do this? By allowing employees to work remotely, purchase additional holidays, and even take a career break (for studies, travel, child/family care, to pursue personal goals... whatever you need to do for you.)
You can learn more about flexibility at Deloitte here.
PwC takes flexibility seriously - "That's why across our global network flexible working is becoming embedded in our day-to-day culture. This means our business can respond in the most agile way to the requirements of our clients, while providing our people with the ability to make their own choices about how and when they work."
Arrangements vary from country to country, but some options include:
- Flexible working hours
- Career breaks
- Job sharing
- Working from home
- Secondment opportunities
You can learn more about flexibility at PwC here.
Dell has been on a journey to create a more flexible work culture since 2009. Through their Connected Workplace program, they allow team members to "choose the work style that best fulfills their needs on the job and in their personal lives." They offer a variety of options, from full-time remote to select days on campus and more.
Click here to learn more about workplace flexibility at Dell.
Now Hiring in Philly: They're hiring for 50+ roles in the Philly area, from account executives to technical writers
American Express offers flexible work arrangements, as well as the option to work certain holidays if you'd rather take other days off. They also know how important parental leave is and offer up to 26 weeks of paid leave following the birth/adoption of a child.
Now Hiring in Philly: Manager, Account Development
Microsoft believes that you should "accommodate your family's needs with flexible work schedules." They also offer generous time away.
L3 develops advanced defense technologies and commercial solutions in pilot training, aviation security, night vision and EO/IR, weapons, maritime systems and space.
Their success depends upon quick and agile response, innovative thinking, and relentless commitment, which is why they offer their employees flexibility so they can be as productive as possible. They offer Flexible Work Arrangements (specifically the 9-80 schedule, where you get one additional day off every two weeks). They also offer generous paid vacation, so you have plenty of time to relax and recharge.
Now Hiring in Philly: Test Engineer - Manufacturing