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Why Are Flexible Employees Unhappy and How Can You Change That?

Having happy and fulfilled employees is just one of the ways that a business can ensure success. Yet, many companies mistakenly believe that providing flexibility to employees is the only thing that they need to do to secure employee job satisfaction. A study by Accenture indicates that while many professionals are dissatisfied with their jobs, they have no intentions of leaving. In addition, the study showed that most respondents had some flexibility in the workplace. Since flexibility in itself isn’t a path to job satisfaction, what is? Here are a few ways that you can use your leadership skills to adjust your company’s flexible working arrangements and bring those fulfillment numbers up.

Establish Clear Policies

According to one recent survey, 80 percent of companies offer flexible working arrangements to employees. But do they really? Flexible work comes in many forms and, unless there are clear policies attached to a working arrangement, the ambiguity can lead to confusion, conflicts, and ultimate job dissatisfaction. Flexible working is very attractive to prospective employees, so much so that companies like ten2two recruitment focus solely on finding flexible roles for their portfolio of clients. However, if your company is going to offer these provisions to employees, be sure to take the time to lay out clear policies and communicate them appropriately. Do you want employees in the office during certain days or hours? Do you expect them to always be reachable during business hours? Setting expectations will help employees both understand boundaries and minimize guilt.

Adjust Your Focus

Often, companies remain stuck in the traditional focus of time worked as opposed to tasks completed. In a flexible working arrangement, this is counterintuitive. In fact, one recent study shows that half of Millennial employees work hours after the standard workday is finished and many work weekends. One effective leadership skill is leading by example and shifting the focus away from the clock is an excellent way to gain trust. Flexible employees shouldn’t feel as if they’re “cheating” when they take an hour or two off during the day to run a personal errand. Better communication and the achievement of assigned tasks by specific deadlines should be the new focus.

Evolve Your Company’s Culture

Some organizations simply haven’t evolved their culture enough to embrace the modern work environment. Paying lip service to flexible work arrangements might look good on paper, but employees become reluctant to use the benefits when it becomes clear that they will be frowned upon or, worse, a career-killer. A recent and McKinsey & Co. Women in the Workplace study found that while most companies now have flexibility programs in place, participation is as low as 12%. One of the primary reasons that employees don’t participate in these programs is because they fear that there will be a perception that they are less dedicated to their careers. Experts agree that companies need to adopt a culture in which employees feel safe using the programs and where there is growing evidence of flexible employees with success stories.

While flexible schedules are offered at a majority of companies today, their success remains under debate. Companies are realizing that it’s not enough to simply offer a program, but that attitudes and culture must adapt to ensure employee satisfaction.