Report: Why Employees Want More Flexibility

A new study from the staffing firm ManpowerGroup points out that employees have a lot of reasons for wanting more flexible schedules—including work-life balance, the opportunity for side income, learning opportunities, and the potential for gaining control over their schedules. The reasons differ based on demographics.

Your schedule may be based around the 9 to 5, but does it make sense for your coworkers? Or your contractors?

A new study from ManpowerGroup, one of the world’s largest staffing firms, makes the case for what it calls “NextGen Work,” the concept of working on demand, in more flexible ways, based on needs rather than schedule.

#GigResponsibly: The Rise of NextGen Work [registration required], a report based on a survey of more than 9,500 people globally, finds that 94 percent of respondents are open to more flexible styles of work, and of those who currently do it, 81 percent say it was something they chose, rather than something they did for lack of an alternative. The approach is most popular in emerging markets like India and Mexico, followed by the U.S., Spain, Australia, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

While the growth of flexible work suggests a desire for more work-life balance (cited by 42 percent of respondents), as well as a way to make more money on the side (cited by 41 percent of respondents), part of what’s driving it is also a desire to allow for different skill sets, including the ability to try out jobs, learn new skills, or take on a temporary job before going full time.

The approach speaks to some demographics more than others; younger employees see the flexible approach as a way to gain experience in roles that aren’t yet available to them. (Older employees, however, are less interested in the education benefits.)

The reasons also differ by gender: Women are more likely than men to take on flexible work to improve skills, according to the report. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to try a flexible approach to get a less-stressful working environment or to spend more time with family.

For employers, ManpowerGroup Chairman and CEO Jonas Prising says the benefits of the approach can be seen in the diversity of skills such flexibility encourages.

“It’s time to shift the discussion from regulation and prevention to action: Companies need to better understand how people want to participate and meet them where they are, with what they want,” Prising says in the report. “Flexibility, responsibility, and employment security are not mutually exclusive. Employers need to become builders of talent, not just consumers of work.”

Flex work, of course, has many parallels to the gig economy, but ManpowerGroup maintains the standards of full-time jobs with benefits, which the firms argues are necessary. “We must continue to ensure the protection of people but not through the prevention of emerging models of alternative work,” the report states.

(PeopleImages/DigitalVision/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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