THE BLOG
10/15/2013 04:10 pm ET | Updated Dec 15, 2013

Flex: What If You Don't? Squandering Corporate Value

It's National Work and Family Month. More importantly, October 15th is National Flex Day. The very first one.

Why should you pay attention?

The numerous studies now available show that the benefits of workplace flexibility are plentiful and far-reaching -- all told, the data is truly compelling. It really does warrant flex being given the prominence with its own 'Day'.

Despite all the data showing positive impact, there is a lingering general perception among corporations that workplace flexibility is an employee perk that should be earned, and otherwise is not worth the effort. Of course, inertia is a powerful blocker of progress even in the most obvious and logical situations. Even more powerful is fear. People generally fear change, and fear is truly the greatest motivator, or hindrance, of all.

So, instead of positive insight and persuasion for once, how about thinking about the question: WHAT IF YOU DON'T?

If you do NOT implement flex, let's consider what happens to your enterprise value, thinking about it from its basic building blocks. If your business' net present value is the sum of multiple years' future free cash flows discounted back to the present, what are those cash flows made up of? Very simply put, of course, revenues less costs. Many components are involved in generating those revenues -- strategy, the product or service, target market, price point(s), cost base, cost control, quality and much more. And what, or rather who, determines those things?

Your human capital.

It's a combination of the brainstorming, analysis, evaluation, collaboration, decisions and actions of your people that generate your business' revenues. But what if your employees are not actually making all the right decisions or not doing their best to help your company?

STAT: 70% of employees are actively dis-engaged or not engaged in their work [Source: Gallup 2013].

What does that mean? However statistically significant, let's cut the number by a third. That still means almost half of your employees don't care much about their work, are not working very hard and or simply not applying much of their creativity and intelligence to moving your company forward and upward.

What is the result? It probably means some incorrect or certainly less-than-perfect decisions are being made, the quality of your services or products are not as good as they could be, resulting in less positive reactions from your customers, reducing repeat sales and or recommendations to others, plus corresponding increased sales for your competitor(s) and decreasing your future revenue streams and growth potential. Not great. Let's hope your competitors have it worse...

STAT: 32% of employers had their top performers leave in 2012. 39% of employers feared losing their top talent in 2013 or 2014. [Source: Career Builder, 2013]

What about your best performers? Yes, the ones who are actually making significant contributions for your company. If you lose any of them, it's a double hit, as your loss probably becomes a competitor's gain.

STAT: 25% of employees said they would change jobs in 2013 and 2014 [Source: CareerBuilder 2013].

On the cost side now, clearly there are significant costs associated with any top departures and increased turnover resulting from dissatisfaction, non-engaged employees and any lack of purpose/interest in what your company is doing. There's the loss of knowledge -- internal and external -- relationships and experience. Plus, the time, effort, distraction and energy it takes to replace these people should not be underestimated, when all the people involved could have been utilized more productively for progress, not filling in holes.

What could be the reality for you company? If you're lucky, perhaps only 30% of your employees are not actively engaged, you only lose one top performer and 5% of your other employees... Plus, maybe you and your management team will only be distracted for nine months to find good replacements, and it will only take a few more months to train and integrate them. But, what value could you have built, or not lost instead? Just on the back of an envelope, you can see the math isn't pretty.

So, how come flex is the game changer?

At 59%, having a flexible schedule is THE MOST important non-cash factor that employees say they value. The ability to work from home scores high as well, at 33%.

Agreed, to be most successfully implemented, workplace flexibility is not a write-the-policy-and-we'll-be-done matter. It is a cultural issue, approach and mindset. Workplace flexibility actually changes the dynamic between employer and employees in actively engaging both sides in the discussion. The relationships between managers, teams and executives is deepened and enhanced, and that is all beneficial to the top and bottom lines for the long term.

Incorporating flexible policies in a company shows the employees that their needs are also valued and that they are trusted. Commitment towards them is expressed, allowing them to show commitment in return. Workplace flexibility does require thought and planning to be implemented properly. However, while flexibility has many custom models and options, it can be done in a systematic way so it can be duplicated efficiently and effectively throughout an organization.

In the final analysis, IF you want to keep your employees, you want to engage them, you want to maintain and even increase their contributions to your company and realize more of the potential value of your company, then flex is not a choice but a necessity.

What's more, make sure you adopt flex before your competitors do....