Benefits, Flexibility Key to Retention

A new survey of American workers reaffirms what most HR leaders have recognized in recent years: Lifestyle fit is key to attracting and retaining employees.

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About half of those surveyed would leave their job for a position with benefits that fit their needs, including more paid time off, enhanced healthcare coverage and a more generous 401(k) plan. Forty-two percent of participants said they would quit if another job offered a more flexible work environment, including options for remote work. The flexibility finding goes hand in hand with other recent research, including a Randstad study that found about 43 percent of U.S. workplaces are shifting from a traditional on-site, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. format to a more agile approach, with the opportunity to work from multiple locations and during non-standard hours. Of those employees who already work in agile environments, 82 percent said that approach has allowed them to maintain a good work/life balance and 81 percent said it has improved productivity, creativity and job satisfaction.

Apart from revamping workplace benefits and instituting remote-work options, companies should also ensure messaging about such policies is included in conversations with applicants, says Emmett McGrath, president of Yoh.

“Those with top skills have choices, and these findings indicate that benefits and workplace-flexibility offerings should be clear and compelling when speaking with a prospective candidate about a position,” McGrath says. “It is absolutely critical that recruiters identify early in the process each job seeker’s desires when considering a new role, and pair them with opportunities that fit their specific career and lifestyle needs.”

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While workers want better benefits and flexibility, there are some factors that wouldn’t be enough to prompt a job change for most, according to the survey. Perks like on-site gyms, daycare services and other efforts aimed at improving workplace culture don’t have a serious enough appeal to keep or attract employees: Only 27 percent of workers would consider leaving their jobs for such perks. Less than one-quarter would be open to a job change for a better commute.

Also of note, just 15 percent of workers polled would not consider leaving their current positions for any reason–meaning a vast majority of employees are open to new positions, presenting an opportunity for those recruiting and a challenge for those focused on retention. As the survey indicates, employment packages that take lifestyle needs into consideration may have the best chance of success on both fronts.

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Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected].