It’s undeniable that demand is growing for employers to offer more flexible work options. According to a study by Harris / Decima, 89 per cent of employees feel that a flexible work program makes a company more attractive, and flexible work was considered the second most important factor, after money, when Canadians are looking for a new job.
Flexible work arrangements not only affect your ability to attract top talent. But it also has other flow on effects of improved employee engagement, retention and performance.
Flexibility in the workplace can take on many forms and with different focuses.
- There are initiatives related to hours – flextime, compressed weeks, part-time
- There are initiatives related to performance – results-oriented KPIs, earned days off
- There are initiatives related to workstyles – telecommuting, flexible workspaces, job sharing
- And finally, there are initiatives related to lifestyle – phased-in retirement, on-site facilities (e.g. day cares, gym, housing)
We take a look at what five top employers are doing to create more flexible workplaces for Canadian workers:
KPMG has established some great initiatives that offer a more flexible lifestyle for its employees, catering to greater demands for work-life balance.
- KPMG supports a unique “Working Parents” networking group that brings together parents with young children to share ideas, experiences and resources in balancing their personal and working lives.
- A “Personal Care” program provides employees with up to 50 hours of paid time-off annually to help with a range of personal matters, including family emergencies, bereavement, moving, religious observance and personal appointments.
- Older employees can prepare for life after work with retirement planning assistance and phased-in work options that allows them to gradually leave the workforce.
- Their unique LEED-certified head office which features an employee lounge, video games, pool table, self-service kitchen areas on every floor, quiet room for reflection and prayer and nap room for employees who need a quick rest during the busy day.
World Vision Canada
World Vision’s employer brand is right in line with its corporate brand, combining professionalism with passion.
- World Vision helps employees balance their work and personal lives with a variety of alternative work arrangements including flexible hours, shortened and compressed work week options, and telecommuting.
- Employees have the opportunity to travel to locations where World Vision operates to see the impact of their efforts.
- They also offer retirement planning assistance and phased-in retirement work options.
- As an added performance initiative, employees can earn extra time-off through a formal Earned Days-Off Program
Simon Fraser University
Forget hour-long commutes! SFU employees have work-life balance at their doorstep with access to the new urbanist UniverCity development project. The UniverCity community, which surrounds its Burnaby campus, is one of the most innovative and progressive urban development projects in North America.
- The SFU Community Trust has incorporated below-market housing options for SFU faculty and staff into UniverCity, thus providing affordable housing options for members of the SFU Community in close proximity to their place of employment.
- UniverCity is nestled into a wild, protected forest and the whole community emphasises sustainability throughout.
- A large percentage of those who live in the community have ditched their cars and can either walk or ride their bikes to work, adding to the green culture of the workplace.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Like World Vision, Sunnybrook’s employer brand is well aligned to its corporate brand. As a healthcare provider, Sunnybrook’s unique worksite has a strong focus on employee wellness.
- Sunnybrook’s sprawling 97 acre property has large greenspaces for employees to relax, walk, ride a bike or take a break during the day. It also has an impressive on-site fitness facility with free membership.
- Employees have many options for flexible working hours, including a shortened work week, compressed work week, telecommuting, a reduced summer hours program and an earned days off (EDO) program.
- Sunnybrook also helps employees prepare for life after work with retirement planning assistance.
Telus introduce its ‘Work Styles’ flexible work program back in 2006 to enable workers to work when and where it is most effective.
- Telus divides workers into three categories: Teleworker, Mobile and Resident.
- Teleworkers work the majority of their schedule remotely; Mobile workers are highly mobile within the Telus space with some time spent on external sites (home, external vendor etc); and Residents work from one location.
- Currently, 47 per cent of their workforce works outside the office on any given day. Their goal is to have 70 per cent of its 40,000 people working from home or on a mobile basis at least part-time by 2015.
- Telus incorporate leading-edge technology such wireless connectivity, videoconferencing, Live Meeting, messaging, social media and Telepresence solutions to support its mobile workforce.
- Their unique head office features onsite amenities such as a fully-equipped fitness facility, employee lounge, television and foosball, and quiet room for meditation and religious observance.
You don’t have to be a big business to implement flexible work options. Use the above examples as inspiration for implementing flexible working best practices into your business. Flexible workplaces are as much about attitude and management culture as it is about formal programs. And any company that finds a way to implement more flexibility into their culture will find themselves winning top talent over their competitors.