Is Your Work-Life Flexibility a Dealbreaker for a New Job?

Earlier in my recruiting career, work-life balance and remote flexibility were not super critical factors in the new job negotiation dynamic. Now, these intertwined items come up long before the offer stage. In fact, these components of new job consideration are some of the very first things applicants ask about when evaluating a potential employer. Some folks won’t even apply if a job posting doesn’t mention options for working from home occasionally (or completely) or openness to flexible schedules, unlimited PTO, etc. What’s especially interesting about this shift is the employee demographic asking for it and the companies that are responding.

Who’s Asking for Flexibility? 

As with a number of trends in the current employment marketplace, it’s easy to point to “Millennials” as harbingers for the hot topic of work-life balance. It’s true, this particular generation of employee has been unabashed about asking for creative ways to approach the traditional idea of worksite location. Why not remote in from home? Or a coffee shop? Why do I need to be seen in order for you to know that I’m getting my job done? Age-bracket stereotypes aside, though, the people seeking out flexible work situations are often not so young after all. They can be: 

  • People with familial complexities (kids that need to be picked up, spouses that travel heavily, etc.). 
  • Those who want to avoid either a long commute or the general grind of daily traffic.
  • People who are working from home currently (company headquarters may be out of state, and there’s no local physical office presence).
  • Those who believe they are simply more productive when working at home

While some early-career candidates are absolutely asking about this subject in the job opportunity evaluation process, more and more often, requests for significant flexibility are coming from those who have to manage other life-related commitments. These employees need to find a way to work a full eight hours while also having the freedom to juggle many other priorities, such as children or even aging parents. 

A person working from home on a laptop. More people are asking about remote work options and flexibility at an earlier stage of the job search process.

Working from home (or another convenient remote location) is a huge factor for the Generation X employee experience. As I recruit candidates, I hear more and more requests for worksite flexibility from this group. Dual-income households. Or single parents. Kids that have to be here, there, and everywhere – all at not-so-convenient times. The need to be able to drop everything to handle a family emergency and to have an employer understand. 

As mentioned, this situation has evolved beyond an offer negotiation tool. For many employees, having significant work-life flexibility is a flat-out dealbreaker. Sound like you? Here is what to have in mind as you eye the potential employer market. 

Which Companies Offer Flexibility? 

The companies offering these options fall into two main categories: 

  • Those that made it part of their culture from the start.
  • Those that first began to offer it to existing employees as a retention tool and are now making it part of the experience for new employees by default. 

Most Triangle-area companies that are featuring work-life flexible environments are noting this factor in their position descriptions, especially employers in the technology industry (of which we have a high concentration in the Triangle). “Remote options available” and “unlimited PTO” will be featured descriptors. The good news? Raleigh is one of the cities with the greatest number of telecommuters overall, with 6.2% of the labor force performing some degree of work from home. We fall just behind Boulder, CO (8.5%), and Corvallis, OR (6.9%), while the national average sits at 2.9%. 

However, some companies do not offer flexible worksite options, period. About 44% of global companies don’t support remote work situations. If access to work-from-home days or the ability to come and go as needed is a deal breaker for you, be sure to tell your recruiter up front or to ask about this factor during your initial phone interview with a company. If you reach the offer negotiation phase without this topic coming up, it’s probably too late to not be an awkward exchange. A company that does not offer flexible work options is highly unlikely to alter the policy for just one candidate.

More questions about remote working? Contact us to hear about employers and positions that offer this option. 

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