By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

The workforce is nothing like how it was when your grandparents went to their nine-to-five. And no, I’m not talking about free snacks or colorful slides in the office lobby.  

When, where and how we work has completely changed.  

The standard office job isn’t what it once was, and flexible job opportunities are a large contributor to this shift. Flexible jobs have risen 115% in the past ten years, and with it comes changes to the structure of how a business operates and how employees contribute.

This flexibility can look like anything from 100% remote-jobs, to four-day workweeks to offering freedom to work in or outside of the office. Some careers lean more friendly towards this flexibility, but don’t be fooled, it can exist for any career (and for good reason).

In order to capture these benefits and prepare for the future, here are three reasons your company should support and encourage flexible jobs.

1. When employee stress decreases, retention increases.

The top values that employees seek in a potential job include: work-life balance, flexible work options, and control over their work schedule. They view these values important, or even more key than the salary being offered.

As a career coach, I have worked with many clients who enjoy their job, but really hate the commute, long meetings or the struggle to work in the late afternoon hours when their energy is low. Instead of completely jumping ship and searching for a new job, I suggest they have a meeting with their manager and request a more flexible work schedule.

In many cases, this has worked out, and clients really find they enjoy this new perk. But in other cases, it doesn’t go well, I’ve seen client leave to find employment that can accommodate their flexibility needs.

Employers need to realize that flexibility is slowing becoming a must, not an option…if they want to retain top talent, that is.

Don’t fall into that second bucket where you begin to lose valuable employees. Seek to understand why your employees want more flexibility, and adjust your structure. The main reasons employees seek flexible schedules at work is to manage their work-life balance, accommodate family needs and reduce commute time. Overall, stress management is the underlying goal with all of these factors.  

If you can reduce employee stress, employees will feel better at work, and in turn, be more committed to you. A study found that employees who were allowed to adjust their schedule to manage personal needs got more sleep at night, didn’t feel obligated to come into the office while sick and were healthier overall.

The less stressed or burnt out your employees are, the more likely they are to stay with you. In fact, 95% of employee attrition is largely attributed to workplace burnout.  

Combat this burnout and offer flexible schedules to support your employees and also save yourself the steep costs of employee replacement. Be aware that it costs employers 33% of a worker’s annual salary to hire a replacement if that worker leaves. If more and more workers begin to leave, that cost will start to impact your businesses bottom line.

2. It is the way of the future generations.

Flexible employment options are necessary if you want to attract the younger generations of workers. Why? Generation-Z (born from 2000 onwards), and Millennials (born 1980-2000) value work-life balance more than any other generation, and part of that is the draw to flexibility in their work life. A staggering 70% of Millennials‘ workers have reported leaving or considering a new job that offered more flexibility.  

Flexible jobs and contract work is the wave fo the future. Most companies are slowly nixing permanent physical office locations. Meetings are becoming more and more virtual, across geographies and different time zones. If the office space is not necessary any longer, why should set office hours remain?

Some experts estimated that by 2030, office life as we know it will be gone and most workers will be working in some remote fashion. Start preparing for the future now and stay ahead of the curve by offering your young and exciting employees the motivation to work for you.

After all, as a leader, people don’t work for you. You work for them. Your job is retention, and that means meeting the needs of your talent.

3. Productivity will rise.

According to a new study, 77% of employees say flexible work hours makes the workplace more productive for them.  

When you consider that creativity and productive energy aren’t constant throughout the day and predictable every day, offering flexible hours will create greater room for higher functioning hours specific to each employee.  

Add this to adjusted or eliminated commuting and productivity will be ever-present. The average U.S employee commutes a total of 4.35 hours per week. That is half a workday worth of time that could have been spent doing things other than driving, like personal needs, continued education or actually working.

At the end of the day, your employees’ hours shouldn’t matter, but the work product should.  

If the end result is high quality, it shouldn’t matter when or where an employee completed it. Whether they worked during normal working hours, or during a late-night session at home, consider this: flexibility is the way of the future… If you care to stay relevant as a company, jump in.

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.