Many of the best companies to work for in the US have found that they are benefiting from implementing flexibility and family friendly policies for their employees. Generational attitudes have begun to transform this landscape somewhat over the past decade, as millennial workers are more likely than Baby Boomers or Gen-X to consider workplace flexibility to be essential. This shift, combined with a growing emphasis on the value of diversity within organizations, has created momentum toward increasing these types of offerings. But COVID-19 forced companies across the world to transition to remote work almost overnight, a phenomenon that many believe will revolutionize the way employees work moving forward. In this dynamic climate, my research team and I designed a study to highlight what types of flexible and family-friendly arrangements are available at a variety of businesses and the impact these policies are having on companies and their employees.
In the fall of 2020, I worked with researchers Robbyn Scribner and Michelle Vargas to collect data from 100 companies on their flexibility and family-friendly offerings and policies. Although we focused on Utah companies, the results should be interesting for other states in the US and beyond. We surveyed companies from several “Best Places to Work” lists because the organizations had been publicly recognized for offering benefits to meet their employees’ needs. Human resource professionals or other company representatives who have deep knowledge of company policies and their general effects on the businesses completed the surveys. The first of three LinkedIn articles in this series highlights the specific policies that were mentioned in this study. This article discusses the benefits for companies, and the final one will highlight some of the challenges.
Companies that are deemed as “best places to work” see numerous benefits from offering flexible and family-friendly arrangements to their employees. In this survey, company representatives choose any applicable answers from among eight possible benefits related to their flexibility policies. The percentage of companies that choose the following items are listed below:
- Higher employee satisfaction: 94.4%
- Increased employee retention: 79.8%
- Higher employee engagement: 71.9%
- Increased productivity: 65.2%
- Improved recruitment success/higher quality candidates: 60.1%
- More diverse teams: 50.1%
- More women in high levels of leadership: 47.2%
- Increased profitability: 33.7%
Mirroring national reports about employees’ desire for greater workplace flexibility, the vast majority of respondents are seeing higher employee satisfaction and increased retention, including one respondent who had heard from employees that “no other company has given them the flexibility to attend to family matters and that this keeps them around.” Another stated that flexibility leads to “more loyal employees who know we care about them and their families.” Further, 71.9% of respondents reported higher employee engagement, and 65.2% noted increased productivity. One participant illustrated the long-term impact of these findings by stating, “As many of our employees have transitioned to work-from-home during the pandemic, we have experienced increased productivity, satisfaction, and retention. Although remote work wasn’t a strategic employment practice prior to the pandemic, it will be in the future.”
In addition to the above-mentioned benefits that apply to individual employees, companies also reported the following benefits to their companies more broadly: 60.1% said they were able to attract higher quality candidates due to their flexible benefits. In terms of internal diversity, 50.1% of participants said these policies led to more diverse teams, and 47.2% said it helped them place more women in leadership roles. One participant noted, “We have had women at different levels who still want to grow their careers have the opportunity to go part-time. We have retained good talent by providing flexible work schedules.” Retention of female talent can be a key factor in advancing more women into leadership later in their careers. Finally, 33.7% of respondents said that offering these benefits contributed to increased profitability. As many companies in the survey noted, they have had flexibility policies in place only for a short time (in reaction to COVID-19); it would be interesting to see if reports of increased profitability would grow over time, as employee engagement has been tied to higher profits.
This research can serve to inform companies and other types of organizations about the benefits they can receive by emulating the “Best in Class” businesses that are working hard to meet their employees’ needs. With the effects of COVID-19 predicted to continue well into 2021, these benefits have never been more important. The full report, “Flexible and Family-Friendly Policies at Utah’s “Best Places to Work,” can be located at the link provided. Additional Utah, US, and global research on women can be found here.
Dr. Susan R. Madsen is a global thought leader, author, speaker, and scholar on the topic of women and leadership. She is also the Inaugural Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University and the Founding Director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project. Thanks to the lead researcher, Robbyn Scribner, and research associate Michelle Vargas for their contributions to this article.
Women & Leadership Global Thought Leader, Author, Speaker, and Professor
This article shares some of our research findings related to the benefits of workplace flexible and family-friendly policies, particularly during the pandemic. Check it out. #workplaces #familyfriendly #flexiblework #UWLP Utah State University – Jon M. Huntsman School of Business Utah Women & Leadership Project Utah State University #COVID19