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Utah Business

workplace flexibility

The Future Of Work Is Flexible

It’s the beginning of a New Year and time to look ahead to 2019. This is especially true for staffing. Have you thought about what’s next for your business? Whether you believe a recession may be looming in the next couple of years or that Utah will remain resilient against a downturn, finding the right candidates and retaining current employees must be top priorities to ensure business growth in the current job market.

 

Job Seekers Want To Work On Their Own Terms

 

To do this, there are two places of focus: being flexible and prioritizing career advancement. Let’s start with flexibility. This isn’t just about flexible work schedules. Savvy employers know that non-traditional work schedules are frequently required to hire or keep the best workers. But, being flexible as an employer extends to a couple other aspects of the business.

First, employers need to be flexible by including non-traditional workers into their staffing mix—think freelancers, gig workers, or independent contractors. Why? Many job seekers want to work on their own terms. They’re choosing work in ways that enable them to build richer, more meaningful work experiences throughout their career and gain greater flexibility to balance out their lifestyles. A recent study, Freelancing in America 2018 from Upwork and the Freelancers Union, indicates that 56.7 million Americans are now freelancers, and 61 percent of them said they chose it instead of working in a typical office. The report also found that one out of every three American workers freelances. According to Intuit, the number of freelancers in the U.S. is expected to increase to 43 percent of the total workforce by 2020.

We know Utah’s unemployment rate has remained low, averaging 3.2 percent for 2018. Even more interesting are the 10-year lows for involuntary part-time workers, who work part-time but want full-time employment, and marginally attached workers, who are available and have looked for work during the past year but not in the most recent four weeks.

Utah’s Department of Workforce Services reports involuntary part-time workers averaged 2.4-percent in 2018 and marginally attached workers averaged 0.6-percent. Both rates are the lowest since 2008, indicating a very tight labor market where employers are unable to fill open jobs.

 

Workplace Flexibility Isn’t Just About Working Hours

Second, workplace flexibility extends to offering a variety of benefits that suit a diverse and expansive workforce. For example, if their position allows it, employees should be able to work from anywhere. Technological advances with in-office workstations and online, networked systems can better enable team members to collaborate and connect with each other no matter where they’re located. A 2018 State of Remote Work study indicates that 43 percent of the workforce has spent at least some time working remotely. What’s more telling is that once people go remote, they aren’t likely to go back — 90 percent of remote workers plan on working this way for the rest of their careers (think back to the reasons people are choosing nontraditional work!).

Besides flexibility, growth experiences are another area of focus for employers in the future of work. Workers want help building their existing skills, training for new roles, and planning a roadmap for their future—for many fear getting “stuck.” The return on providing such growth experiences is big. The idea is that employees who are nurtured will, in turn, take care of customers and partners.

Focusing on employees’ career development helps keep them from becoming part of the more than 3 million people who voluntarily leave their job each month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Putting this number into perspective, imagine the entire population of Utah resigning this month and next and so on.

To do this, employers should create a people strategy for all team members that focus on ways they can gain experience while learning and growing. Traditional learning programs typically include stretch assignments, team or position rotations, job shadowing, an official mentor program or apprenticeships. Other types of employee-growth programs may include wellness (e.g., weekly massages, onsite gyms), enrichment (e.g., lunch and learns on financial planning, new technology), volunteerism (e.g., workday donations to a local cause) and recognition (e.g., regular celebrations of the business, team or individual successes).

The modern workforce is evolving. Like it or not, employers must evolve, too. And that involves ditching the script on old ways of thinking about work and approaching workforce planning in a new way that embraces the value of all workers and work styles. Plus, it requires dedicated effort to create a high-performance, inclusive, winning culture where workers can acquire new skills and advance their careers. That’s how employers can best prepare for what’s next in the future of work.

 

Susan Hornbuckle is the Utah territory vice president for Kelly Services, a global leader in providing workforce solutions. She oversees the staffing and business solutions operations for Kelly throughout the state, with a focus on staffing for accounting and finance, administrative, aerospace and defense, education, engineering, information technology, light industrial and manufacturing, and more.