Luring job candidates to become future employees in the Great Resignation is proving to be a challenge. As workers get younger and more diverse, they come with uniquely different expectations, and companies are now forced to adapt. 

Conventional wisdom in the pandemic age dictates that employees need flexibility. Bill Gates knew this many years back when he predicted what we now see in most hybrid and remote work environments. The Microsoft co-founder said: 

The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area.

Flexibility in the form of flexible work arrangements is certainly the norm these days, as remote work has eased the financial burdens that used to come with long commutes, train and bus fares, onsite child care, and expensive housing in large metro areas. 

Every generation seeks flexibility

We already know that people are demanding more work-life balance, regardless of which generation they call their own. One pre-Covid study found that 85 percent of Millennials prefer to telecommute 100 percent of the time. Another study during the pandemic found that 82 percent of U.S. office workers in general "want to continue to work from home, at least weekly, when the pandemic is over."

What's noteworthy about Gates's "flexibility" quote to hire the best people is that, in pre-Covid times, the majority of companies were either unable or unwilling to adapt to the lifestyle demands of younger workers. In turn, they found themselves losing good talent to companies with more flexible options like remote work. Now the tables have turned. 

If you're still on the fence about offering your employees more flexibility, consider two business reasons.

1. Job satisfaction

Younger demographics may stay in a job for much longer if their employers are flexible about where and when they work. According to a Staples study, 90 percent of workers indicated that more flexible work arrangements will boost morale and increase their satisfaction at work--a key component of employee recruitment and retention. Per the Staples study, 67 percent of employees would consider leaving their jobs if work arrangements become too fixed.

2. Increased productivity

Any claim from Gates is worth your attention, but this one is even more compelling because the data backs up his assertion. Harvard Business School research found that employees at companies with work-from-anywhere policies were 4.4 percent more productive than those who had flexibility but still needed to live near the office. What kind of financial impact would that make for your organization?

Decades of studies show that people are happier, healthier, and more productive when they feel autonomous. The more autonomous we feel, the more likely we are to be engaged. You can take that to the bank.