Research is increasingly coming to the consensus that more women in top management translates to a better performing corporation and more gender balance within the entire organisation. But it also reveals that in APAC, men are 20% more likely to apply for any advertised job than women, indicating that there are more women in the talent pool than may be evident from job application responses.
In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we look into why your organisation should offer flexible work arrangements. Not only does it attract more women employees, enabling them to balance their commitments both at work and in the home, but it improves business efficiency.
The benefits of creating a culture of flexible working go beyond simply attracting productive staff. They are simply good for business all round. As the Managing Director of RGF Singapore, Mr James Miles mentions: “Offering flexible work options to employees could be the best way to drive company retention. Employees are able to think more and be more productive if they are given the trust to work at their own pace. It also gives working mothers the work-life balance they need in order to spend more time with their families”
Having women on your workforce is an advantage, especially in top management positions. Yet in organisations that enforce an “anytime, anywhere” policy for C-Suite, women vying for top positions don’t find themselves able to commit due to childcare and other home conflicts. According to Managing Director, RGF Malaysia, Ms Lee Ai Ling: “The only thing that sets most women leaders apart from male leaders is the need to manage time to function well in both roles. ‘Work Family Time Management’ is critical to me and other working women because our second job after we leave the office is wife/mother”. Forty-five per cent of executive women interviewed in an Asia Pacific McKinsey survey cited “anytime, anywhere” models as reasons for turning down leadership role promotions. Offering flexible arrangements like being able to work from home full-time or during agreed hours or days gives you access to this talent you wouldn’t have otherwise, and helps create a trusting, mutually beneficial working relationship.
That trust goes a long way to helping you retain talent as staff feel appreciative of the trust placed in them. Having flexible work arrangements that they may not get elsewhere also helps you retain employees for the long term as they will be reluctant to lose these flexible privileges. Research has shown that more women in the workforce means better business. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises. The study goes on to reveal that, while “the standard argument is that diversity is good and you should have both men and women in a group..so far, the data show, the more women, the better.” With such conclusions, it makes sense to offer flexible work arrangements to keep valuable female talent.
The need for employees to prove that working from home benefits the business too means they have an intrinsic reason for making the arrangement work and are more likely to do more for the business. Because they don’t have to commute and are in control of their time, they are more likely to start work early and with fewer distractions that they would normally face around the office, they are able get work done faster.
A happier workforce
Working from home increases your employees’ morale as the ability to balance work and life starts to take effect. Being away from what could be a toxic working culture also helps to reduce stress and burnout and improve employee well-being. A healthier, happier employee is more likely to give more and stay for the long term.
Reducing operating costs
Having a portion of your staff working from home obviously reduces the headcount in the office so you can rent smaller office space and cut unnecessary rental, energy and materials costs that go with having a larger head count.
Optimising use of technology
Employing flexible work arrangements lets you more efficiently utilise technology your organisation has invested in. Collaborative meetings do not have to be conducted in person but can be held over teleconference or webinar facilities. Similarly, files can be shared in real-time and worked on collaboratively without the need to be physically present. Such work arrangements also help to increase productivity as meetings are cut to only those necessary and tend to be shorter and more productive than when held physically in the office.
Instilling a results-driven culture
Measuring an employee’s performance by results and outcomes rather than the number of hours clocked in also helps support a flexible working culture in the organisation, and after all it’s the results that count.
So drive up results for your business by making it a more female-friendly and flexible place to work.