Benefits to bet on: flexible work schedules

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As the topic of work-life balance becomes more important, one workplace offering seems to have become more important, too: flexible work schedules and remote work options. A survey of more than 1,500 workers from Unum found that flexible and remote work options were the second most-desired non-insurance perk. Advocates say the option increases employee satisfaction, loyalty, retention and wellbeing. It also can help retain working parents, caregivers or workers with health conditions who have to balance doctors’ appointments and work hours.

“For many, flexible and remote working options give people more choice in when, where and how they work, and a lot of people value that,” says Unum’s Bowen. “Having the option to work remotely may enable people to travel more, spend less time in traffic, or better balance their other responsibilities. These may seem like small wins, but that flexibility can play into employees’ overall wellbeing and quality of both work and life.”

For employers, the benefit can be a wise–and cheap–investment. Unlike other benefits, it can even save employers money by lowering overhead and office costs. It also can help employers find and keep talent, Bowen says. “From a talent-acquisition perspective, offering employees the option to work remotely can open more possibilities in who you hire,” she says. “Quality talent can be scant in some geographic areas, but broadening your search to include remote workers outside of your market may help you find that perfect candidate.”

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.