The New York Times once again features a laudable story about the benefits to be gained from flexible work arrangements.
One week ago, the paper reported on the shifting workplace dynamics in the Netherlands, where both men and women were beginning to ask for more flexible work arrangements to strike a better balance between their professional and personal lives. IWF executive director, Carrie Lukas, reported on the article in the National Review, emphasizing the importance of allowing businesses to adopt flexible work arrangements as they see fit, because government intervention may very well take the “flexible” out of workplace flexibility and make the workplace less efficient.
This NYT article demonstrates why markets will adopt more workplace flexibility of their own accord. It tells the story of the accounting sector which leads the way in workplace flexibility in America. The accounting firms did what they do best, account for the costs and benefits of offering more workplace flexibility. Their overwhelming conclusion was that accommodating employees’ needs for better work-life balance pays off.
Jennifer Allyn, managing director in PricewaterhouseCoopers‘ office of diversity, said stepped-up flexibility policies had helped cut turnover to 15 percent a year, from 24 percent. Firms estimate that the cost of hiring and training a new employee can be 1.5 times a departing worker’s salary, so reducing turnover by 200 employees could mean $30 million in savings. Sharon Allen, Deloitte‘s chairwoman, said her firm’s flexibility policies saved more than $45 million a year by reducing turnover.
This shift in workplace policies in the accounting sector is especially note-worthy, because the accounting profession has a long-held reputation of suffering from long hours, especially during tax season.
Nevertheless, it makes sense that the accounting sector would emerge as one of the business leaders in workplace flexibility. After all, accountants are the ones engaged in managerial or cost accounting, the accounting variant concerned with increasing business efficiency.
This is great news, because it means that we will likely soon see an increase in workplace flexibility in other sectors of the economy as well, as more and more businesses recognize that flexible work policies are good for their bottom line.