By Manon DeFelice
These days, startups and other companies are all about the perks. Endless snacks, beer pong on Fridays, a giant ball pit in the middle of the office—the list goes on as employers raise the bar to entice more promising candidates.
Yet there’s one game-changing, highly attractive perk that startups often don’t think to offer. Flexibility.
Real life is a full plate of work and family; workers need flexible solutions so they can balance both. Yet offering flexible work arrangements is not just about being accommodating to your employees. It’s a boon for companies too—especially startups just getting their footing.
Here’s why today’s up-and-coming companies should really consider offering their employees flexibility—such as working part-time or telecommuting from home—for the benefit of everyone.
Tap Exceptional Talent
If workplace flexibility is not common in your industry, you might notice a brain drain of extraordinarily talented and experienced workers. Women in particular often feel like the workplace is a black-and-white scenario: They can work either 100 hours a week at their job, or 100 hours a week as a stay-at-home mom. There is a way to do both. And that involves having a flexible environment.
Once flexibility is an option, startups have access to rock-star talent they might not otherwise be able to afford . A flexible HR Director, for example, might take a job for a third of her former salary—because she is able to work three days a week. And imagine what this rock star is able to do for her new company in just three days. A lot more than a lower-level hire could achieve in five.
Don’t Start From Zero
By offering from-home or part-time work, startups are able to achieve the impossible: They can retain talented workers (many of them women) who also want to be with their families. The businesses benefit from retention, and the women find a solution to the “having it all” conundrum. Having it all is a myth—but you don’t necessarily have to choose between a very high-level job and staying at home. It’s a far easier transition, and women won’t leave the workplace as steadily when offered flexibility.
Better yet, businesses that go flex don’t have to spend all the upstart time and cost on training someone to replace a great employee that just left. Recruiting and training a new employee can be an expensive and time-consuming process; sometimes it takes nearly six months for a new hire to really start doing their job. Why not just keep your current employees by offering them the flex time they need?
Free Up Working Capital
Here’s something for your bottom line: Increasing flexibility can decrease your startup’s cash output. By making flexibility part of the compensation package, you’re paying less than a full-time salary and getting talent that’s higher level for your team. Flexibility opens you up to a world of higher talent because you’re letting people work how they want. Giving your employees the reins to do their work when (and often where) they like means spending less cash. It’s good for you, good for your employees and good for your investors.
Solve Your Pipeline Problem
If jobs were more flexible and hours more pliable, we’d see higher retention rates for women in difficult fields. Cue: the lady pipeline problem in tech and other industries. Let’s face it—the 9 to 5+ and the traditional office place wasn’t really built for two working parents. It was built for one person to work and one person to stay at home. There is so much room to change that.
Many women want to be doing very high-level work, but they also want to spend time with their families. They want to “lean in” to both their career and their family. The pipeline problem is often a case of not only excuses on the part of companies but also a lack of high-level women—because senior women have stepped back to raise kids.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Hiring flex candidates is a fantastic way to create a better gender ratio within your startup company , keep senior women in the positions they have earned, bolster your balance sheet and attract rock-star candidates with the best perk that today’s companies can offer. Beer pong Fridays and giant ball pits just don’t compare.