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The traditional eight-hour workday may soon be the exception rather than the rule. New evidence shows that we’re reaching a tipping point in terms of workplace flexibility, with businesses seeing the wisdom of allowing employees — young ones especially — to work odd hours, telecommute and otherwise tweak the usual 9-to-5 grind.
One of the top 12 trends for 2012 as named by the communications firm Euro RSCG Worldwide is that employees in the Gen Y, or millennial, demographic — those born between roughly 1982 and 1993 — are overturning the traditional workday.
The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation estimates that by 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be Gen Y. As early as next year, this group of younger Americans will comprise 60% of the employees at companies like Ernst & Young. And increasingly, companies are creating workplace-flexibility programs because it makes good business sense, not in the least because that’s what their employees are demanding.
Gen Y-ers are spearheading this change because they don’t want the same work environment their parents had. Between new technology and global workplace dynamics, companies are implementing flexible work arrangements for everyone, inclusive of Gen Y. A recent Vodafone U.K. survey illustrates that 90% of employers enable work flexibility instead of sticking to traditional hours.
Leading the charge in the shift toward allowing employees to work anywhere around the world, at any time they want, are companies such as Ernst & Young, Aflac and MITRE, which all realize that they need to accommodate employees’ personal lives if they want to retain them. “This notion of an eight-hour day is rapidly disappearing, simply because we work so virtually and globally,” says Maryella Gockel, Ernst & Young’s flexibility-strategy leader. By understanding Gen Y-ers’ need for workplace flexibility, companies are better able to recruit and grow young talent for the future.
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