Offering Flexible Work Arrangements Helps Keep Talent, Says Survey

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A new FlexJobs survey shows that travel is a surprisingly popular motivator for why people work—with 70% of Millennials say the desire to travel is a primary reason to work, second only to paying for basic necessities (88%). Gen X respondents ranked travel (60%) as the fourth most important reason for working, and Boomers ranked travel (47%) fifth in importance. Fifteen percent of Millennials in the survey identified as digital nomads/travelers—individuals that leverage technology in order to work remotely and live an independent and nomadic lifestyle—compared to 11% of Gen X and 8% of Boomers.

While work/life balance, workplace flexibility, and salary are the top three factors the three generations consider when evaluating a job prospect, rankings vary: 82% of Millennials cite work flexibility as a factor compared to 81% of Gen X and 79% of Boomers. Work schedule was also more important to Millennials (65%), whereas only 57% of Gen X and 62% of Boomers said it was a consideration.

“Since Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor workforce, it’s critical that companies pay attention to how, where, and when they work best,” said Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, in a press release. “82% of Millennials said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options and nearly a quarter would be willing to work more hours. So offering Millennials work flexibility isn’t just a strategy to avoid negative consequences like losing talent—employers have a lot to gain by modifying their strict, traditional, office-based model of working.”

Other findings include:

Millennials Place High Value on Work Flexibility

Millennials place an extremely high value on work flexibility:

  • Work/life balance (84%) was ranked the most important factor when evaluating a job prospect.
  • Work flexibility came in as the second most important factor (82%), and salary ranked third (80%), all ranked well above other factors such as health insurance (48%), company reputation (45%), and 401(k)/retirement benefits (36%).
  • 34% have actually left a job because it did not have work flexibility.
  • 14% have considered leaving a job because it did not have work flexibility.
  • 24% are currently looking for a new job because of work flexibility issues.

Reasons Millennials Are Interested in Work Flexibility

Work flexibility appeals to different groups within the generation.

  • Millennials identified primarily with the following groups: working parents (40%), freelancers (26%), introverts (30%), entrepreneurs (18%), students (17%), and digital nomads (15%).
  • Millennials interested in work flexibility are highly educated and experienced workers. 74% of respondents have a college or graduate degree and 20% are already manager level or higher.

Employer Benefits

Millennials report being willing to make bottom-line saving sacrifices in exchange fortelecommuting options:

  • 35% of respondents said they would take a 10% or 20% cut in pay.
  • 27% are willing to forfeit vacation time.
  • 22% would be willing to work more hours.
  • 82% of respondents also say they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.
  • 60% of Millennials think they would more be more productive at home vs an office.

Generational differences

Respondents were broken down by generation: 678 respondents report being Millennial, 1,358 respondents report belonging to Gen X, and 845 respondents report being part of the Baby Boomer generation.

  • While Millennials tend to be associated with freelance work more so than other generations, these results showed they were less inclined: only 42% of Millennials were open to freelancing as a flexible work arrangement. 47% of Gen X and 44% of Boomers expressed interest in freelancing.
  • Millennials report “needing and wanting to work” versus just “needing to work” at a higher rate (71%) than Gen X (65%) and Boomers (66%).
  • Millennials report being required to be at the office to work at a much higher rate (34 %) than Gen X (26%) and Boomers (19%).
  • Yet, Millennials show a stronger preference for working at a coffee shop, coworking space, library, or other place besides the office (11%) compared to Gen X (8%) and Boomers (6%).

Generational similarities

  • None of the generations site the office during traditional hours as their location of choice for optimum productivity.
  • None of the generations seem to be overly concerned about the negative impact a flexible work arrangement might have on their career progression.
  • The three generations reported having been the victims of job scams at a similar rate (14%).
  • All three generations use social media similarly in their job search, with LinkedIn being the primary channel and Facebook a distant second.

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