Workplace flexibility as a talent management policy is no longer an option; it is an essential practice that enables organisations to attract and develop skilled talent. The practice is rapidly becoming a win-win: reflective of employee and employer needs, and for Capetonian employees specifically, achieving and maintaining a work-life balance is serious business. ManpowerGroup South Africa’s managing director, Lyndy van den Barselaar, believes that Cape Town businesses can realise higher degrees of productivity from their employees if they opt for international best practices that promote a better work life balance – such as offering flexihours.
The ManpowerGroup Solutions’ Global Candidate Preferences Survey entitled Work, for Me asked 14 000 people aged between 18-65 years across 19 influential employment countries what mattered most to them in the job search process. Says van den Barselaar, “The results were not surprising. Globally, businesses that adopt a workforce policy that favours flexitime attract the best talent, and Cape Town is one city that certainly understands this”.
Cape Town attracts both local and international employees to its shores. The city’s beauty, culture, heritage, outdoor lifestyle, and social activities have garnered international attention, making the city a desirable destination for many people. However, if employees are not able to spend time enjoying these attractions they may be less willing to take on employment opportunities.
A number of factors drive this flexihour requirement, both positive and negative; while the city’s residents spend more time outdoors than most South Africans, the sharp increase in the city’s population has driven traffic congestion to surprising levels, for example:
“If you are not able to afford the high property prices within the city or the Atlantic Sea Board, or if you wish to take advantage of larger living space offered outside of the city bowl, then a 45 minute to 2-hour commute to work is most likely a reality. The city’s extreme traffic congestion has significantly influenced the desirability of positions at businesses within the city and has, in many cases, influenced businesses to move to premises outside of the city bowl,” explains van den Barselaar. “While working in the city offers a quaint city lifestyle and access to shops, museums, galleries, gardens, and a view of Table Mountain, the frustration of dealing with traffic outweighs these benefits over time.”
To counter this growing frustration, the City has called on businesses to allow for flexibility in arrival and departure times as a measure to decrease traffic congestion. “This is in line with the Work, for Me study’s findings in which flexible arrival and departure times was recognised as one of the 8 types of flexible working arrangements. The other types include fulltime work from home / location independence, choice and control in work shifts, part-time work from home, compressed shifts / work week, opportunities for sabbaticals or career breaks, unlimited paid time off, and caregiving leave,” explains van den Barselaar.
“Allowing employees to take advantage of the outdoor lifestyle before and after work, as well as decreasing the time spent in traffic driving in and out of the city, means employers are attempting to offer their employees a better quality of life; and therefore achieve an overall happier workforce, which studies prove results in a higher degree of productivity and job satisfaction.”
She notes that the unique challenges that living and working in Cape Town presents to employers and employees means that workplace policies will need to be updated to include different types of workplace arrangements and will also lead to redefining new work models that differ from the traditional 40-hour, 50-week standard model.
“Workplace flexibility needs to become a priority for local businesses, in order to ensure success and relevance in the modern workplace,” concludes van den Barselaar.