Modern employees are seeking workplaces that provide greater flexibility and emphasize mental health initiatives. With the working world constantly changing and evolving, organizations must continue to implement working arrangements that prioritize both employee performance and well-being in the new year.
Employers must adjust their expectations and procedures to align work arrangement policies with the unique needs of each individual across their workforce, contributing to overall employee health, happiness, performance, and productivity. Explore four flexible arrangement trends for an optimal work environment in 2023:
Implement A Hybrid Work Model
After two years of pandemic-induced remote work, 81% of employees do not want to go back to the office at all or prefer a hybrid work model. Advocates of a hybrid work model tout the benefits of providing employees with greater freedom over their work schedules, improving work-life balance, and allowing them to reclaim their leisure time by limiting the number of hours spent commuting.
For employers, a hybrid work model can be particularly beneficial for employee retention and recruitment. In a recent survey, 90% of HR professionals reported that they rely on hybrid working to recruit and retain talent. The survey found that hybrid work helps address the top three factors contributing to turnover: childcare (55%), work-life balance (47%), and mental well-being concerns (47%). Organizations can remain competitive by implementing a hybrid arrangement that offers autonomy and flexibility to top talent.
Consider A Compressed Work Week
Hustle culture convinced the masses that a work-centered life was the key to success, glorifying 70-hour workweeks and a constant grind mentality. However, research has debunked the theory that more hours equate to higher productivity, and it certainly doesn’t have a positive impact on health. Studies reveal that productivity decreases sharply after 50 hours per week and drops off entirely after 55 hours. Additionally, working an average of 55 hours or more each week increases an employee’s risk of stroke by 35% and the risk of heart disease by 40%.
As new research emerges and burnout rates rise, people have come to terms with the toxicity of hustle culture and questioned the long-standing tradition of the five-day workweek. A study conducted by time management expert Laura Vanderkam found that a 38-hour workweek is optimal for limiting time pressure while maintaining productivity. This is similar to the 30-35 hours that the happiest countries tend to work weekly.
Alternatives to the standard 5-day, 40-hour work week include:
- 4 x 10-hour days (40 hours)
- 5 x 7.6 hour days (38 hours)
- 4 x 8-hour days (32 hours)
- 5 x 6-hour days (30 hours)
With less than 10% of workers achieving a workweek below 40 hours, employers can create the opportunity for condensed work by shaving off low-value tasks and unnecessary meetings. This gives employees extra time for personal matters, limits burnout, and encourages overall happiness and productivity.
Organizations can maximize performance by allowing individuals to match work with their circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms refer to the body’s internal clock that controls energy regulation, determining how alert or sleepy one feels at a given point in time. This hardwired pattern can greatly affect employee productivity, yet many employers fail to regard its importance.
For example, employees’ peak levels of energy don’t occur until a few hours after the start of a typical workday (8 am), yet they often have morning meetings in which they are expected to be engaged and participative. Their mid-day energy peak (around 12 pm) might be spent on low-value tasks such as catching up on emails, leaving them to complete high-value tasks during their greatest energy dip (3 pm).
While the cycle outlined above is common, there are individual differences to circadian rhythms that can shift employees’ energy levels. “Larks”, or morning people, tend to spike in alertness earlier in the day, while “owls”, or night people, spike later in the day. More and more companies, like Microsoft, are allowing their employees to choose when to start their workday.
Organizations can move away from a one-size-fits-all approach by implementing flextime. Aligning work schedules with individuals’ energy levels can result in a more productive workforce and an improved employee experience.
Prioritize Employee Wellness
Putting employee wellness first has become a core business strategy for leading organizations as job applicants continually seek companies who prioritize their well-being. In one survey, 88% of HR professionals believed they would reduce staff turnover if they offered more appealing wellness benefits, and 68% reported that applicants have turned down a job due to a lack of wellness benefits being offered.
Wellness benefits come in a variety of forms, from gym memberships to free or discounted healthcare services. A holistic employee wellness program is optimal for addressing all dimensions of employees’ well-being, resulting in improved job satisfaction and morale. Organizations that invest in their greatest asset – their workers – experience higher retention rates, increased engagement, and a happier and healthier workforce.