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April 7, 2021

Reality #4: The expectation of flexibility

The 5 new realities of 2021


Many of the challenges employers face today will remain long after the pandemic is over. Among them, one aspect is abundantly clear: flexibility is no longer a perk to attract and retain talent—it’s an expectation.

According to recent data, 67% of full-time working parents are stressed about figuring out childcare options, and 70% say it’s difficult working remotely with kids. And it’s no surprise that these challenges are affecting working mothers the most. The percentage of American women currently working is the lowest it’s been since 1988. Without timely support and solutions, this impact could be devastating for families and companies for generations to come.

The good news is most businesses are adapting quickly and providing flexible accommodations and expanded paid leave policies for working parents and caregivers. Mercer’s September survey found that 51% of companies are allowing parents to have more flexible schedules, and 37% are allowing employees who typically work onsite to continue to work remotely until they can secure childcare solutions.

There’s also the growing interest among many employees for long-term flexibility even once the pandemic is behind us. Some employees are finding their productivity levels have increased and are rethinking their hour-long commutes and the need for daily in-person meetings. These employees will start to expect a work-from-anywhere strategy from their current and future employers, rather than an exception-driven remote work policy. Employers are listening and many are exploring hybrid work models to ensure they keep top talent.

Here are a few places to start when thinking about the future of your workplace:

  1. Re-examine your employer-sponsored paid leave policies. Ensure they offer sufficient flexibility to handle the evolving needs of workers and their families, including evaluating the need for different options.
  2. For now, assume that flexibility is here to stay. Develop an inclusive workforce plan that allows for flexibility, recognizing that many companies may never go back to the traditional work strategies they used before the pandemic.
  3. Explore if there are additional ways you can support your employees who are also caregivers—for children or other family members. Working parents need flexibility and practical caregiving support from their employers.

For help navigating these new waters, reach out to your MMA representative to start a conversation.