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If you thought that your workers were tackling big tasks, hitting their deadlines at the office, and generally happy commuting into work, think again. According to a new survey from FlexJobs, the biggest thing that employees want at work in 2016 can be summed up in one word: flex.

What People Want at Work in 2016

The FlexJobs Fifth Annual Super Survey takes a good look at the world of flexible work –and why people are clamoring for it from their employers.

According to the survey, 65 percent of workers believe that they would be more productive at home than they are at the office. The reasons: fewer collegial interruptions (76 percent), diminished distractions (75 percent), and a decrease in the number of office meetings (69 percent). But it doesn’t end there: not having to deal with office drama ranks highly, (68 percent), as does ditching hellish commutes (67 percent).

So, who are these workers who want flexible work options? If you guessed working parents would lead the list, you’d be right: 39 percent of them want flexible work options. Coming in second are freelancers (26 percent), and introverts pull up in third (21 percent). Entrepreneurs take the fourth place (20 percent), followed by caretakers (16 percent) and digital nomads (11 percent).

The motives for wanting flex vary as much as the people seeking it. By far, the biggest reason for people wanting or needing flexible work options was the need to pay for basic necessities (80 percent), followed by wanting to travel (58 percent) and needing to save for retirement (65 percent). Other reasons included wanting to pay off debt (59 percent), desiring to have a professional impact on the world (41 percent), hoping to contribute to charity (28 percent), and needing to pay for continuing education (25 percent).

Employers and Flex Work in 2016

Sure, employees want flex, but does that mean employers are obligated to give it to them?

Absolutely, according to the survey results. When job seekers are considering whether or not to accept a job offer, work flexibility ranks as the most important determining factor (80 percent). It’s even more important than salary (74 percent) and health insurance (43 percent). What used to be one of the biggest determining factors, a company’s 401(k) package, came in dead last (31 percent), right after company reputation (41 percent).

shoreAttracting and Retaining Talent

For employers looking to attract A-list talent to their team – and then retain them – offering flexible work options just makes sense.

Why? Well, flexible work (or lack thereof) contributes to why workers leave their jobs – even ones they otherwise love.

For instance, 33 percent of respondents claim that they have left a job because it didn’t offer flex. Eighteen percent of those surveyed said that they are currently looking for new jobs because of work flex issues, and 14 percent have considered leaving a position because it lacked flex. If employers wish to hold on to their top talent, one big way to achieve that is by offering flex.

And employees are willing to sacrifice in order to find the flex they want and need. More than one-quarter (29 percent) of those surveyed said they would take a pay cut (from 10-20 percent!) just to have more telecommuting options. Even vacation time was up for negotiation, with 22 percent stating they would be willing to forfeit their vacays if it meant they could work remotely.

Reasons for Wanting Flexible Work Options

When asked, employees identified four main reasons why they wanted flexible work options. The first: work-life balance (79 percent), family (52 percent), time savings (48 percent), and eliminating commuting stress (47 percent).

If respondents had their choice when it comes to the type of flex they received, they would opt for 100 percent telecommuting (86 percent), a flexible schedule (73 percent), or partial telecommuting (49 percent). Freelance work options rounded out the list (44 percent).

Of the 3,153 respondents, the majority (54 percent) were ages 30-49. Twenty-three percent were 50-59, and 12 percent were 20-29. Most had an associate’s or bachelor’s degree (48 percent), a graduate degree (32 percent), or some college but no degree (16 percent). As for career level, more than half (58 percent) were experienced. Manager or senior-level manager came in second (32 percent), and entry-level rounded it out at 10 percent.

There is definitely a lot of talk about when it comes to workplace flexibility. But as the findings from the FlexJobs Fifth Annual Super Survey indicate, the want, need, and demand for flexible work options are here to stay. So if companies want to attract top-tier talent, retain them, and build teams of workers who are more loyal and more productive, it simply makes good businesses sense to implement flexible work policies.

Brie Reynolds is the director of online content at FlexJobs.



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