Fluid Work as a Retention and Engagement Game-Changer: The Jacobson Group

By | April 16, 2018

As young professionals play an increasingly important role within the workplace, forward-thinking companies are turning their attention toward attracting and retaining this critical talent. While healthy snacks, happy hours and ping pong tables are emerging as potential incentives, what really motivates and drives today’s young professionals? A flexible, fluid work environment may be the key perk many young professionals are looking for in their next role.

Shifting away from the traditional in-office, 9-to-5 workday is a good place to start for organizations looking to introduce fluid work. Insurance organizations may consider flexible start and end times, remote work options, or even walking or off-location meetings for a change of scenery during the day.

Some companies have moved to a paid time off (PTO) program that encompasses vacation days, sick leave and even holidays, enabling employees to use their time off how they want. Other companies have instituted an unlimited PTO program allowing employees to take time when they need it as long as their personal production goals are met. Options like these could be instrumental in attracting new talent to the insurance industry.

It is important to keep in mind that one size does not fit all. Not every professional wants the same thing. Companies should avoid alienating employees by assuming, for example, that everyone wants to work remotely. There are a number of reasons that young professionals may prefer working in the traditional office environment.

Some employees may prefer the social aspect of in-person team interactions, or perhaps the office is a place where they go to be around adults while their young kids are at school. Others may be motivated by the buzz and energy of the office or are more comfortable with face-to-face meetings.

Others may struggle with maintaining work/life balance and prefer to keep their home and work lives separate. In addition, some employees lack the capacity to create an effective home office environment. Working remotely is not right for everyone. Fortunately, it does not have to be an all-or-nothing scenario.

Ease into Flexible Work Arrangements

Developing a fluid work environment takes time. It is best to avoid “ripping off the Band-Aid.” Instead, incorporate measured milestones and seek employee and manager feedback while transitioning to a flexible workplace. This transitional period may include occasional, planned remote days. Remote days would then increase as employees demonstrate their ability to meet their performance metrics offsite. Others can experiment with alternative work hours to see if that is a realistic situation. This measured introduction allows teams to learn together how to best work within a flexible, fluid arrangement.

As companies incorporate remote and flexible work, regular performance management and clear metrics will be essential to success. Measuring performance as often as every week keeps employees aligned with their team, connected to company leadership and, ultimately, held accountable for the continued quality of their work.

In addition, this regular communication feeds into young professionals’ craving for frequent, specific feedback. While aligned in-office days are always the recommended choice for one-on-one employee/manager meetings, tools like Skype and WebEx can also facilitate this interaction through visual, not just auditory, discussions.

Enjoy the Benefits of Remote Work and Fluid Schedules

The insurance industry continues to face a competitive labor market. Fortunately, fluid work can help better position the industry as an attractive place to work. Leveraging modern work arrangements and accommodating a range of work preferences will help many insurance organizations attract new talent and retain young professionals.

It is important to keep in mind that one size does not fit all. Not every professional wants the same thing.

Providing remote or flexible work options has the potential to vastly widen the talent pool — opening the field up to non-local professionals. Potential candidates no longer have to relocate for a job if they can work from home all or most days of the week. With flexible start and end times, working parents can schedule their jobs around childcare needs.

Alternatively, they can adjust their schedules to work longer days in a four-day week and have an extra day at home with their children.

This expanded talent pool is especially critical as more and more insurance employees reach retirement age. Attracting a broader scope of talent through flexible work could slow the impact of the aging workforce and make the industry more competitive in the job market.

Offering alternative work environments can greatly improve employee satisfaction and even performance. With consistent performance measurement, many young professionals thrive in a remote or fluid work environment. For forward-thinking insurance organizations trying to accommodate a modern workplace and remain attractive to top talent, a flexible and fluid workplace strategy might be a game-changer.

About David Coons

Coons is senior vice president of The Jacobson Group, a provider of talent to the insurance industry. Phone: 800-466-1578. Email: dcoons@jacobsononline.com. More from David Coons

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