Flexibility or Higher Pay: Which Do You Prefer?

Modern workers subscribe more and more to the axiom "time is more valuable than money." How will the business world acclimate to accommodate this trend?

Is time really more valuable than money? It makes sense in theory: you can always recover lost dollars but you'll never get back lost hours. But how much are workers willing to sacrifice their time -- and the ways in which they want to spend it -- in order to secure more financial stability?

Businessman Victor Lipman, writing over at Forbes, believes the trend is pushing more toward the direction of flexibility. He cites a new global survey administered by the software company Unify that indicates 43% of workers would prefer flexible work hours over a pay raise. One-third would take a new job with lower pay if it meant more autonomy over work hours. According to Unify CMO Bill Hurley, business leaders who ignore this trend risk losing good employees.

As with many privately administered surveys, it's important not to take the numbers as gospel. After all, only 800 people "worldwide" participated, and Unify just so happens to be in the business of selling products that would help client companies adopt flex hours. Still, as Lipman writes, society is moving away from the rigidity of the typical work week and more toward alternatives such as telecommuting. It would seem that regardless of whether time is more valuable than money, the future looks like a place where we no longer have to make a choice between one or the other. Therefore, management needs to adapt.

Remember: a company's most important asset is its workforce. When valuable members of that workforce request a little more flexibility, the supervisor tasked with granting or denying the request needs to consider morale and talent retention in his or her cost-benefit analysis. Lipman explains that it's okay to grant leeway to keep people happy as long as you can ensure productivity won't suffer (it may very well improve). Adherence to the prior norms for the sake of continuity makes little sense if those norms are no longer necessary or pragmatic.

The stringent, unbendable structures of business-past are going the way of the dodo. Valuable talent, particularly from the younger generation, will expect employers to allow them flexibility as long as they can still get the job done. With the myriad ways technology has opened up new approaches to work, it's not an unreasonable request to grant.

Read more at Forbes

Image credit: Dooder / Shutterstock

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