Woman in hybrid work place sharing her time between an office an
April 5th, 2023

Advice to Companies Hiring in 2023: Flexibility in the Workplace

As the labor market continues to shift and evolve, companies looking to remain competitive must think strategically about recruiting and retaining talent. Forward-thinking organizations understand that remaining flexible when it comes to their workplace policies is essential for success in 2023. What does flexibility really mean? It’s not just about offering remote work opportunities or flexible hours. Rather, flexibility has a much larger scope and requires employers to be both creative and mindful of changing trends and employees’ needs when making hiring decisions. Gone are the days of work-life balance. Companies must learn to accept work-life integration as a way of productivity and success.

In the first session of our “Advice to Companies Hiring in 2023” series, we sat down with our very own Angie Aldinger, Vice President of Business Development, to discuss what flexibility means for employees in 2023.

Q: Work-from-home and in-office job policies have been all over the place the last few years. As some companies work to move away from remote work, some talent rejects the idea. What advice do you have for companies to ensure they are not only attracting talent but retaining them?

A: If we learned nothing else from the pandemic, we learned people could successfully work independently out of their homes. We also know this didn’t work for everybody. It is incredibly challenging to find balance for everyone, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Each role should be looked at independently when assessing work-from-home, in-office, or hybrid approaches. A Scientist whose tasks require them to be in a lab differs from a Data or Bioinformatics Scientist who can successfully perform their duties offsite. Further, insisting that employees work on-site when there is a massive pool of talent elsewhere can be counterproductive and limit an organization’s access to talent.  

Companies should make thoughtful, customized decisions that work for the specific role. This approach can ensure the best access to talent, which helps the business and ultimately benefits the patient.

Conversely, we know some individuals require an office setting to feel productive. This may have nothing to do with the nature of their role and everything to do with their work style. Successful companies will have flexible, hybrid solutions, and smart leaders will instill policies that work for their company and culture—an example of integrating work and life.

To thrive in 2023, leaders should introduce human-centric approaches to flexibility. Whether it’s encouraging remote employees to come in once a month or once a week, providing access to third-party coworking locations, or leveraging emerging technologies to bring teams together – find out what works for your team and implement it. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. 

Q: The labor market is still tight in 2023 and primarily candidate driven. In addition to salary, many candidates are considering what companies offer in terms of flexibility and benefits and emphasizing mental/emotional well-being when making decisions. What are some of your recommendations for companies to consider when thinking about offering benefits to candidates that stand out in this market?

A: We, as leaders, people managers, and team lead, should get to a place where we are thinking differently about what our employees want and need – to listen more deeply and ask the right questions. We should have conversations with our teams to find out what their ideal day looks like and find common ground on what can work best to balance your needs as their manager, the requirements of their roles, and, primarily, their needs as members of your team. We want our employees to be their most productive selves. This looks different for everyone, and solutions require individual, case-by-case planning. Understand that as a leader, people should be empowered to express what they need to be their best selves.

I encourage you to ask your team members, “How do you feel most productive?”

As we’ve learned to live with COVID-19, some companies have gotten on board with providing flexibility as a flagship benefit, allowing employees to flex their hours to impact their emotional/mental well-being positively. At the same time, some organizations advertise flexibility but don’t take proper steps to instill it into their culture. We see many employers who have lost sight and consideration of the individual employee and their productivity.

The standard workday ranges between 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., but we know some people are most productive working outside these hours. What is the right way to ensure balance and promote building flexibility and well-being in employees’ days?

I reflect on the way that I work best. I prefer logging on early and taking a mid-morning break to go to yoga. I’ll work throughout the rest of the day and log back on at night to wrap up after my evening break. Certainly, not everyone works the same way. Others want to log on at 8 a.m. and log off at 5 p.m. Employees with kids may prefer an early start to the day to be done in time for after-school soccer matches. Every individual is different.

We must remember that there is no universal magic potion solution. These decisions must be customized to the individual for employees to thrive. I believe 2023 is the year of being inclusive to and flexible with employees to ensure mental and emotional well-being. Most organizations need development within leaders to empower well-being within their teams while working in this flexible environment. Again, we must ask, “What works best for each person to be their most productive self?”

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