Most of us will be familiar with the ‘best place to work’ awards, which seem to have multiplied in recent years as businesses struggle to retain talent. As a result, the workplace has become an area in which the employee is given more control; from the introduction of competitive benefits to the use of personal development plans. Despite going through times of economic uncertainty and unemployment, Britain’s workforce no longer regard moving jobs as risky, and are actually more inclined to look elsewhere for a better offer or more incentives. So what is it that makes us think where we are working is great?

A report we put together looking at attitudes towards meetings and the workplace found that 57% of managers and 62% of office workers now regard flexible working as a way to encourage people to stay with the business when they otherwise might go elsewhere. So as businesses continue to focus on putting comprehensive private health care or free car parking on their benefits agendas, it looks like they could be missing the vital ingredient.

In addition to this, 52% of managers believe flexible working actually enables projects to be completed faster! So surely it’s something our employers should be embracing? Unfortunately it’s not always that simple. The ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) boom and request to use social media at work are rated highly on the agenda of today’s workforce. Integrating benefits such as this, however, can be problematic for businesses, particularly larger enterprises. Having said that, perhaps considering it as a benefit rather than a new way of doing things is what’s holding businesses back?

Recent research by YouGov found that just under half (48%) of employers recognise the link between staff retention and benefits, yet a significant proportion do not. In fact, one in 10 employers say there is no link between staffing and employee benefits. I find these figures surprising and, with an increasingly demanding workforce, I would expect more employers to be recognising the relationship between the two – it’s time to start including flexibility on the benefits agenda.

In my experience, benefits play an important role in employee retention and satisfaction, spanning anything from free car parking to private healthcare and bonus schemes, even a small ‘extra’ goes a long way. The challenge businesses now face however, is ensuring their benefits are keeping up with the demands of today’s workforce; with more organisations offering competitive packages, employers need to find new ways of keeping up.

What some individuals and teams within businesses are doing instead is introduce applications and tools themselves to actively demonstrate how they make life easier and working days more fulfilling. We can’t all expect businesses to allow us to decide what our own working hours will be or let us set up office in our favourite coffee shop, but what this does demonstrate is our own ability to influence our working environment.

 I’m sure you will always say your organisation is a great place to work but, have you ever stopped to ask your employees or colleagues if they agree? For me, it’s about providing the tools to enable your workforce to be flexible; achieving more at work whilst being flexible and understanding to accommodate these changing workforce demands.

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