Labor Insight: Flexibility Ranks High

I had a great chat with a friend today. He’s run a multimillion-dollar business for over a decade. I always leave our conversations with a golden nugget. Today, labor came up. He has front-line workers, and he told me what he’s experiencing in today’s labor market. His main challenge has been finding good team members to work consistent hours in his retail shops to greet customers and help them find products.

His big insight is that money isn’t the motivating factor for his applicants anymore. They value flexibility over higher compensation. The pay matters, but they’re less willing to take even a higher wage if the schedule is static. If they do take a role with minimal flexibility, they don’t last more than a few weeks.

Recognizing this, he’s reworked how his company does scheduling for this role. Instead of waiting around for customers to show up, he has them schedule appointments ahead of time. That has allowed him to offer a more flexible schedule to his team and match labor to customer demand. And he can attract and retain people for roles focused on helping customers.

The labor market is a big challenge right now. We’re seeing a change in workers’ priorities, and I’m not sure all employers recognize it. How our workforce operates is going through a massive shift, I believe, and employers will have to adjust to survive in this new environment. I won’t be surprised if we see companies significantly change their policies and operations to bring them into alignment with this change in the labor market and with broader sentiment. If this happens, we’ll probably see efficiency gains in many industries and other ripple effects.