Women frequently start their own companies in order to give themselves the flexibility to balance work and family. Giving your employees the same flexibility can save your business money, spur growth, and make your employees happier.
It’s not an employee benefit (which costs money); it’s a change in culture that reaps real dollar benefits. BDO, a global accounting and financial advisory firm with offices in 135 countries has the numbers to make the case.
- Expanding geographically can be expensive. You need to set up an office and hire staff. BDO saved $1.6 million in staff and rent when they opened an office in Austin, TX by having employees, who preferred working from Austin, set up shop in their homes or in cafes. Once a client base had been established, the company opened its office in Austin.
- These same flexible strategies were used when BDO opened an office in NYC. Previous offices averaged 237 square feet per employee. Due to flexible work schedules, the new office needed only 188 square feet per person. BDO saved $1 to $1.5 million annually.
- Accounting firms, like many other companies, have busy seasons. Giving employees the flexibility to work long hours during peak season and fewer hours during off season allows them to indulge outside interests. Some of these employees average out to 100% employment, others to 75%. Payroll goes up when income is high. When income is reduced so, too, are expenses. The company gains an unquantified but still real cash-flow advantage. Employees are happier.
Cali Williams Yost, CEO and founder of the Flex+Strategy Group / Work+Life Fit, Inc. worked with BDO to develop workplace flexibility as a business strategy rather than an employee perk. Her focus is finding the business benefits of flexibility and training both management and employees to deal with the cultural changes needed to make it work.
Now, you may be thinking that this strategy is only of interest to female employees or staff with children. However, BDO’s research revealed “that flexibility is an issue for everyone,” says Marcee Harris Schwartz, Flex Strategy Advisor at BDO. Men and employees without children reported having just as much interest in balancing life and work as mothers did, she says. “More than 90% of employees found [flexible work] an important retention driver.”
Sounds like a win-win to me.