After talking with candidates this past month, they have made one point very clear.  Candidates need and want flexibility.  The world has changed.  If your company doesn’t have a flexible work environment or if you haven’t started thinking about it, be prepared to lose your very best employees.

I live in Austin.  The traffic is horrific.  I love working from home.  I know some of my friends commute over two hours to work everyday.  These people (like most) have families.  This isn’t 1960.  Most families are dual income.

When the economy is hot, people have choices.  Even if you love the company and the work environment, if you have the choice NOT to commute, would you still do it?  No.  You wouldn’t.  Having a ping pong table and beer in the refrigerator isn’t that cool.  Dude, I have Jack Daniels and my mountain bike at home.

Money is still a very important motivator for making a change, but I am seeing people take pay CUTS to in order to have a flexible schedule or to work from home.  The standard work hours aren’t there anymore. 8-5 doesn’t exist.  Logging in after you leave work is more of an expectation now than it has ever been.  Personally, after I tuck my kids in bed, I log on and work until midnight every night.  I get more done and I have less interruptions.  As long as the work is getting done, it really doesn’t matter what time of day it is happening!

There are some employees who still like going into the office.  There is a growing number of people, however, who are just as productive or more productive when they work from home.  As a recruiter, I have been able to talk to some of the best talent available and able to get them interviewed & hired into new roles that they wouldn’t normally consider because of a flexible workplace option.  Currently I have 7 candidates in the interview process who are considering a change primarily because of the option to work remote.

Wow, right?

Well considering I am not a corporate recruiter anymore and if I hire 10-15 employees in a year then its been an excellent year, those numbers mean something.

After attending the Indeed conference a couple of weeks ago, it really made me think.  Unemployment is lower than it has been in years.  In Austin, for example, there is a 3% unemployment rate.  Companies are hiring more than they have since 1999.  If unemployment is low in your city, it is truly a war for talent.

Organizations are going to pull every hat trick to try to attract talent.  In addition to trying to lure candidates with flexible work schedules, companies are going to have to employ people who many haven’t considered hiring in years.  What about the mom who wants to get back in the workforce after taking time off to raise babies?  She has a ton to offer, but maybe can’t work 8-5.  What about someone who has an incarceration record but has been on the straight and narrow for 15 years?  We are going to have to find a way to re-employ these employees.

These are real issues that employers have to address.  Maybe you should think about your company a little harder and what culture you want for your organization.

What are you doing or what have you done?  How is it working for you?  If you haven’t done anything about flexible schedules and work life balance, I will just continue to recruit your employees.  You can count on that.