Canadian Underwriter

Job hunters are changing the rules around work

May 17, 2019   by Adam Malik

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Employers are being expected to offer flexible working options. And job seekers are more than happy to turn down an offer if they aren’t included.

IWG, which operates virtual offices around the world, recently released its annual global study which found a shift in power towards employees. Rather than employers dictating what a regular day at the office looks like, it’s workers and job candidates who are calling the shots.

This new ‘Generation Flex’ believes flex work – including flexible working start and finish times, and telecommuting from home or other remote locations – is the new norm. The research found that 85% of Canadians would choose a job that offered flexible working over a job that didn’t. Work location is important to 54% of them versus working for a prestigious company and 28% would prefer to choose their work location instead of additional vacation time.

“Flexible work is not just preferred by workers, it’s expected,” says Wayne Berger, chief executive officer of IWG Canada and Latin America. “Having a company that’s nimble enough to change with the times has never been more important. For companies serious about winning the war for talent, offering flexible arrangements is now the norm.”

In the insurance industry, flexibility is key. Many roles like claim adjusters and auto estimators require employees to be on the road regularly, so offering flexible work solutions is essential.

“They don’t need to be in the office every day,” said Desjardins spokesman John Bordignon of his company’s policies. “Other jobs benefit from technology, so many of our employees can work from home with a laptop and smartphone.”

Attracting the best and brightest may hinge on how flexible the company is. And organizations have responded for the most part. In the past 10 years, respondents said 69% of Canadian businesses have introduced a flexible work policy.

Corporate culture plays a significant role in how a company adopts change. Businesses that have a long-standing, inflexible approach are unlikely to consider adjusting. It’s fear of change, said respondents.

Almost half of Canadians told IWG that businesses fear the idea of embracing flexible working and another 42% believe there is a lack of understanding about the benefits of flexible working.

“There are many benefits to offering flexible scheduling and a telecommuting option,” Bordignon said, highlighting reduced absenteeism and stress from sitting in rush hour traffic, as well as a shrinking carbon footprint thanks to less fuel being used and less wear and tear on employee vehicles as just some of the perks.

For business looking to attract potential candidates, ensuring that policies allowing for flexibility are in place is critical. Being seen as out of touch or ignorant of changing workplace demands is a poor strategy when competing for talent.

“It’s no longer a matter of if or when the workforce will change — it’s already happening,” Berger said.

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