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Flexible work: Leverage this talent retention trend to prevent turnover of skilled workers


If you’re struggling to retain skilled workers or have trouble attracting employees in the first place, your situation is hardly unique.

Research has found that 61% of employers struggle with retention, and 73% find it hard to attract employees.[1]

Employee compensation is not the only factor contributing to these high figures. The lack of work-life balance in traditional work arrangements can often be the culprit. 

Employers with traditional work arrangements typically expect team members to adhere to a strict workweek, showing up eight hours a day, five days a week, which can lead to stress, anxiety, and even burnout.

There’s a simple answer to these retention woes. A flexible work policy is a talent retention trend that gives employees leniency with their hours and working arrangements. It offers a better work-life balance, leading to reduced absenteeism and higher productivity.

In this article, we discuss flexible work, its importance for your overall talent retention strategy, and the best practices you can implement to retain your key performers.

What is flexible work?

Flexible work refers to giving your employees the freedom to choose their hours, the location from where they work, and how they perform their tasks.

This perk enables employees to work when and where they feel the most productive, rather than forcing them into a one-fit-for-all mold, like a typical nine-to-five workday in the office.

Flexibility at work takes many forms. It can be remote, but there are many flexible work arrangements for in-person work, too. Common flexible work examples include:

  • Job sharing

  • Flexible hours

  • Compressed hours

  • Telecommuting

  • Flextime

  • Reduced hours

  • Unlimited vacation

  • Split shifts

Why is flexible work so important for talent retention?

Flexible work is a two-way street that benefits workers and employers alike.

Among the benefits of flexible work for workers are better employee wellness and job satisfaction, along with reduced stress and a lower likelihood of burnout. Employees can also access more development opportunities when offered flexible work arrangements. 

For example, flexible scheduling reduces stress by 20% and increases job satisfaction by 62%.[2] 

These numbers show that job satisfaction and stress levels improve for workers who can access flexible work, providing them with a better work-life balance, which is crucial for retention. Flexible work also improves organizational commitment, making employees who experience flexibility at work likely to stay and invest in your business’s growth.

On the other side, employers see a boost in their employee retention rate. For example, one study found that 80% of workers would choose a job with a flexible work schedule, and 30% value flexible working arrangements over additional vacation time.[3]

Given that so many workers are attracted to flexible work, this work model can further help attract top talent to your organization. In addition, offering flexible work improves the employee experience, increases productivity, and makes employees more engaged at work.

8 best practices for leveraging flexible work to retain your best performers

Now that we understand the importance of flexible work for employees and employers, it’s time to look at the best practices for using it to retain talent.

Flexible work best practices

Best practices


1. Remote work options

Enables workers to reduce stress related to daily commutes, improve work-life balance, and gain autonomy

2. Flexible scheduling

Accommodates workers with different lifestyle needs and commitments outside of work

3. Job sharing

Attracts and retains workers who need reduced hours, like students

4. Results-oriented work environment

Reduces absenteeism and stress, minimizing burnout chances

5. Unlimited paid time off (PTO)

Increases trust between management and employees and decreases chances of burnout, improving work-life balance

6. Training and development opportunities

Ensures productivity and growth in the long term

7. Parental leave policies

Enhances employee loyalty and promotes a family-friendly culture

8. Employee assistance programs

Shows employees that you value their well-being

1. Remote work options

Remote work options enable workers to work from wherever they’d like, rather than expecting them to always work on-site. 

Remote work options, ranging from fully remote to hybrids of remote and in-person work, reduce employee turnover rates because workers eliminate commutes and the stress associated with them, gain a sense of autonomy, and improve their work-life balance.

However, remote work options such as telework also come with the risk of isolation, communication challenges, and lack of boundaries.

To combat these risks, ensure your company has virtual team meetings and use project management tools and instant messaging platforms that encourage clear communication between your remote workers. 

You should also set expectations about working hours and discourage workers from working outside of them or routinely engaging in after-hours communications.

Industries that commonly use remote work include tech, finance, consulting, and IT. However, smaller companies usually prefer fully remote work – 67% of companies with fewer than 100 employees followed the practice in 2023.

2. Flexible scheduling

Flexible scheduling enables workers to pick when they work to maximize their productivity. Usually, workers can come into the office at any time within working hours. 

Remote employees with flexible schedules make arrangements with their employers to determine their flexible working hours.

Flexible scheduling improves retention and reduces the employee attrition rate by accommodating workers with different lifestyle needs, like parents and caregivers with commitments outside of work. 

These types of flexible work arrangements also give employees more autonomy. For example, if a team meets its milestones, it can work at its convenience rather than sticking to a fixed schedule.

The downsides of flexible scheduling include the potential for abuse by some workers, more complicated schedule management, and the fact that it’s not practical for all companies.

To help avoid some of these issues, ensure that all employees work the same hours each week and your coverage needs are clearly defined and stated.

Flexible scheduling is common in the service and IT industries. It’s also common for freelance writers, software developers and designers, and virtual assistants.

3. Job sharing

Job sharing refers to part-time work in which two employees share the tasks and responsibilities related to a position.

For example, a worker returning from maternity leave can only work three days a week. At the same time, another worker with similar skills rejoins the workforce, hoping for a flexible arrangement that enables them to care for their school-aged children. 

Instead of hiring the two workers as independent part-timers, an organization can have them share a full-time job and its responsibilities.

Companies also use job sharing to avoid layoffs and involuntary turnover due to circumstances beyond their control.

Job sharing can entail both workers:

  • Working the same shift

  • Splitting days

  • Splitting weeks 

  • A customized combination of the above

This practice attracts talented individuals who need flexible working hours, like working parents or mature students. 

In some cases, it also helps employees transition to retirement by reducing their workloads as they approach this milestone.

The biggest challenge with job sharing is finding compatible work partners. That being said, if you’re using skills-based work practices, you can pair employees based on compatible skills to complement each other.

You can also use job-sharing as a learning opportunity by pairing workers with adjacent skills to transfer their skills to each other as they work together.

Because job sharing thrives on collaboration, it’s well-suited to industries like project management, nursing, and education.[4]

4. Results-oriented work environment

A results-oriented work environment, also known as a results-only work environment, is a flexible work arrangement in which workers can do their jobs where and when they want, as long as the tasks get done.

It prioritizes results or outcomes over time spent on each individual task. Because of that, it enables you to measure performance based on tangible results.

When combined with a skills-based approach to work, you can use it in your performance reviews because it’s the best way to gauge each employee’s performance objectively.

The advantages of a results-oriented workspace are:

  1. Less absenteeism caused by sick days because employees can work around illnesses and other life events

  2. Reduced stress and burnout chances

  3. Decreased hiring and onboarding costs because of reduced voluntary turnover

  4. Increased productivity

One major downside of a results-oriented work environment is that it doesn’t work in customer-facing industries like retail, hospitality, and customer service. These industries rely on shift work and workers doing their tasks in a particular sequence each day.

It’s also not a good fit if your company culture promotes collaboration because this environment encourages each employee to do “their own thing” rather than work with others closely. Likewise, if your employees are not self-motivated and resilient, they may not thrive with this model.

To combat this, build employee resilience in the workplace, help your employees become agile and self-disciplined, define job descriptions clearly, and set consistent and measurable goals.

This flexible working arrangement is popular with companies from several different industries, but its strongest proponents are tech, e-commerce, and marketing organizations.[5]

5. Unlimited paid time off (PTO)

Unlimited paid time off is a flexible alternative to traditional paid time off. Employees can take as much time off as they want whenever needed.

Companies often use this policy to attract top talent because workers prefer to take leave or vacation without being limited by a set number of days off.

The policy boosts retention because it improves workplace trust between employers and employees, and increases work-life balance owing to employees not having to prioritize work over personal needs. 

This practice also attracts job seekers by showing that your company puts employees’ well-being first.

Some disadvantages of the practice include:

  • Overlapping time off between employees

  • Employees taking excessive time off

  • Employees not taking time off

These issues can be alleviated with clear guidelines on staffing needs, setting expectations and boundaries about each employee’s workload, and reminding employees during the onboarding process about the importance of taking time off.

Much like the previous best flexible work practices, unlimited PTO isn’t applicable to every industry or business. For example, it doesn’t work for the hospitality and service sector, where companies depend on shift work.

Nevertheless, businesses that use the results-oriented work environment practice can also implement unlimited PTO successfully. It works best for industries like tech and social media companies that also have a remote work policy.[6]

6. Training and development opportunities

Training and development opportunities show a company’s commitment to employee growth. They are palpable ways to show your workforce that you’re willing to invest in their career growth and skills.

However, employers must also be flexible in providing their workforce with these opportunities. 

To do so, you can set up a learning management program that enables workers to access learning and development opportunities at their own pace. 

Likewise, you should custom-tailor training and development to each employee’s needs. Programs that are too broad can put off workers who feel like the company is just paying lip service to their commitment to work flexibility and internal mobility.

The best way to offer these learning and development opportunities is by assessing your employees’ skills. 

Talent assessments let you discover skills gaps and “hidden” talents that may be useful for workers interested in upskilling or reskilling to take advantage of your company’s internal mobility opportunities.

You can give your workers skills tests that gauge their soft and hard skills and offer them growth opportunities based on their existing skills and the ones they wish to develop.

When you offer a professional development plan to your workers, they feel valued and appreciated. It mitigates the risk of losing employees to greener pastures and attracts top talent by improving employer branding.

What’s more, all industries and businesses can offer employee coaching, training, and development to their workers. Unlike our other best flexible work practices, there are no barriers to this type of flexible arrangement.

7. Parental leave policies

Parental leave policies refer to the time off that parents can use to attend to their families when they have a new child or when they need to prioritize their family’s well-being over work.

Policies include maternity, paternity, and adoption leave, and time off to attend to sick family members.

The Family and Medical Leave Act mandates parental leave policies in all jurisdictions. Still, you don’t have to be restricted by the legal minimum when you use them as a best practice to retain employees.

Instead, you should have comprehensive parental leave policies for new parents and all your employees who are parents or caregivers.

These policies increase retention because they enhance employees’ loyalty by supporting them through significant life events. Thus, workers caring for sick family members are not penalized for taking time off. 

They also promote a family-friendly culture that improves generational diversity and makes all employees feel welcome and respected.

There are a couple of downsides to these policies, however. Some employees may not take advantage of them because they fear disrupting the business. Others may feel resentful that they don’t have access to these policies because they are not parents or caregivers.

To combat this, set clear guidelines about how much time off employees can take, how often they can take it, and for what reasons.

Unlike other flexible work practices, companies of any size and all industries can use parental leave policies.

8. Employee assistance programs

Employee assistance programs offer employees and their families access to programs and professionals to help them deal with personal challenges.

While employee assistance programs are not a form of flexible work per se, they show a company’s commitment to its workforce’s well-being. As such, they can replace flexible work in industries and scenarios when it’s impossible, like the retail and service industries.

Employee assistance programs can include:

  1. Professional counseling for a variety of issues

  2. Mental health resources and support

  3. Child and elder care

Employee assistance programs improve retention by showing your workers that you prioritize employee well-being, especially for those in high-stress situations. 

This can even help with talent acquisition when top job seekers see these programs in your employee benefits plan.

Employee assistance programs also have disadvantages. Many workers only see them as a resource to use in a crisis, meaning they may never use them. Moreover, additional obstacles include a limited number of providers with long wait times or inconsistent quality.

To avoid these issues, ensure your employee assistance programs offer resources and support for a wide range of mental health needs besides emergencies. Also, ensure that your providers’ wait times and quality are adequate for your employees’ needs before you commit to them.

In general, employee assistance programs have the highest uptake in heavy industries like gas extraction, as well as education, finance, and healthcare. 

Industries like wholesale trade, hospitality, and public administration are at the other end of the spectrum, not routinely offering employee assistance programs.[7] 

If your organization is in one of these sectors, however, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to offer them – rather, they can be a great way to stand out among competitors.

Flexible work: 4 examples of companies succeeding with this talent retention trend

Flexible work is a great way to retain employees. 

Here are four companies that have used it to successfully reduce turnover and maintain a happy workforce.

4 companies succeeding with flexible work:

The company

How it uses flexible work

Fideres Partners

Only uses the office for social interactions


Lets employees adopt hybrid working patterns

Onecom Ltd.

Uses remote work with one day in the office for each agent


Employs flexible work arrangements to enable all its workers to find a balance

Fideres Partners

Fideres Partners, a small economic consulting firm, has had workplace flexibility built into its culture for several years.

The company is fully remote and uses five-minute daily stand-up video calls to get all their employees in touch with each other. It also has online social events, like weekly breakfast meetings “for people to have a coffee and a chat.”[8]

Fideres also invested in employee training programs for all its managers to better communicate virtually and use the appropriate communication channels to help their reports adjust to working remotely.

The business’s remote policies have been so successful that it downsized its office, using it primarily for social interaction and team and one-on-one meetings with line managers, according to Kate Bicknell, the head of people and culture.

The company also extensively uses Microsoft Teams for video meetings, direct messaging, and to communicate the team’s availability. Kate reports that her employees enjoy “this new way of working.”


Fujitsu, a large IT services company that employs more than 5,000 workers and provides IT support to private and public sector clients, uses hybrid work because 10% of its employees must work on-site owing to security requirements.

Many of its employees are fully remote. The company also trains its managers to best communicate with remote employees so they don’t feel disconnected and isolated. 

Fujitsu also experimented with offering extra parental leave to caregivers during the early 2020s.

The company’s hybrid work policies have been a resounding success. 

More than 70% of its employees feel their work-life balance has improved since adopting these practices, and employee engagement scores have also soared.[8]

Onecom Ltd.

Onecom, the largest independent telecom provider in the United Kingdom and a medium-sized business, follows a flexible working arrangement where agents work from home four days a week and come into the office for one day.

In addition, the company has virtual pub quizzes and drinks to keep in touch and uses active challenges that take advantage of gamification to keep employees healthy. 

Every Tuesday morning, the employees can participate in 15-minute workouts, and there are also employee-run masterclasses on how to improve mental health in the workplace.

The company’s higher-ups didn’t expect remote working to succeed in this environment, but they have been proven wrong – the once office-based business is now open to trying even more types of flexible work in the future.[8]


Skanska, a construction company employing more than 5,000 people, has managed to avoid a “them vs us” mentality when using flexible work in a sector that doesn’t lend itself to flexible work easily.

Most of the company’s employees work on-site doing physical work. Some of its workers work remotely but also need to spend significant time on-site.

The company developed an initiative called Flex-It, which enables each worker to assess flexibility in the workplace regarding time and location. Skanska used Pulse surveys after the implementation of this program to check on its progress.[8]

The initiative was successful within the constraints of construction work. Work teams spend most of their time on-site, and formerly office-based roles spend most of their time remotely. 

Lee Harman, the company’s senior project manager who had doubts about the likelihood of success of such an initiative, concluded that Flex-it “got people into a space where they do believe now that you can work from home in more roles.”

Take advantage of flexible work arrangements to retain your top talent

Flexible work lets workers choose the when, where, and how of their work.

It promotes employee retention because it improves employee wellness and strikes a better balance between their work and personal life, minimizing the chances of burnout.

Your employees experience less stress, better productivity, and more loyalty and trust in you, ensuring they don’t become flight risks when you offer:

  1. Remote work options 

  2. Flexible scheduling 

  3. Parental leave policies 

  4. Unlimited PTO

Learn more about implementing a flexible working working policy that attracts and retains talent and boosts productivity and growth.

Want to learn how TestGorilla can help your human resources team use flexible work to prevent turnover? 

Watch a live demo or sign up for a free account today!


1. “Reimagining Strategies to Improve Employee Attraction and Retention, According to Integrated Benefits Institute Study”. (July 13, 2023). PR Newswire. Retrieved January 8, 2024. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/reimagining-strategies-to-improve-employee-attraction-and-retention-according-to-integrated-benefits-institute-study-301876770.html 

2. “The Importance of Flexibility in the Workplace”. (April 18, 2022). 4 Corner Resources. Retrieved January 8, 2024. https://www.4cornerresources.com/blog/the-importance-of-flexibility-in-the-workplace/ 

3. “New Research Shows That Flexible Working Is Now a Top Consideration in the War for Talent”. (March 27, 2019). IWG. Retrieved January 8, 2024. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-research-shows-that-flexible-working-is-now-a-top-consideration-in-the-war-for-talent-300818790.html 

4. Haycock, Lachlan; Hava, Chloe. (March 16, 2022). “Job sharing could be your company’s competitive advantage - here’s how to get it right”. HRM. Retrieved January 8, 2024. https://www.hrmonline.com.au/section/strategic-hr/job-sharing-competitive-advantage/ 

5. Parris, Jennifer. “Is ROWE Right for Your Company?”. FlexJobs. Retrieved January 8, 2024. https://www.flexjobs.com/employer-blog/is-rowe-right-for-your-company/ 

6. Shukullari, Kiljon. (August 3, 2023). “What Is Unlimited PTO and Is It Right for Your Business?”. Peninsula. Retrieved January 9, 2024. https://www.peninsulagrouplimited.com/ca/resource-hub/hr-policies/unlimited-pto/ 

7. Benefits by Design. (July 18, 2023). “[Report] Industries with High and Low Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Uptake”. BBD. Retrieved January 9, 2024. https://www.bbd.ca/blog/eap-uptake-by-industry/ 

8. “Flexible working: lessons from the pandemic - From the ‘nature’ of work to the design of work”. (April 2021). CIPD. Retrieved January 10, 2024. https://www.cipd.org/globalassets/media/knowledge/knowledge-hub/reports/flexible-working-lessons-from-pandemic-case-studies_tcm18-92645.pdf


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