Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Steps an organisation needs to take to embrace flexibility

How do you successfully integrate flexibility into your workplace? Review the successful businesses and see what they have in common. The following are common strategies used by businesses that have embraced flexible work practices. How does your business compare?

Research or workforce planning

Find out who you employees are. Do you know who works for you? Are they happy? What would make them more productive?
For example finding out:
•the proportion of women to men
•the most common age group
•the average retirement age
•the average length of employment

Managers at Pepsico Australia asks their staff the following question once each year: “What is the one simple thing I can do as your manager to improve your work-life quality?”

Policies and procedures

Do you have a teleworking policy, a flexible work policy and a parental leave policy? Are they accessible to all staff? Have they been updated lately?
Do you have procedures to turn theory into a reality?

Cultural change

Do senior level management support flexible work practices? How many senior managers work flexibly? Do senior level management have knowledge or experience with flexible work practices? Is flexibility only being offered to parents?

Regular training and workshops

Managers are continually named and shamed as the roadblocks to flexibility – help them. Look at the trends within your organisation. Do some teams seem to have more flexible workers than others? Why?

How many managers have training in how to manage a flexible workforce? Probably none.
How do you design flexible roles? How do you assess if a flexible role will work or not?

Ramping up technology

Simply having access to email and the intranet isn’t enough. Technology now needs to consider 2 things:
1. Maintaining productivity of workers in and out of the office
2. Connecting team members when they are not in the office together.

Recruitment strategies and channels

As the skill shortens worsens with an ageing population, where do you look? What will recruitment strategies look like? Be open to hiring flexible workers. Look at other channels.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What you need to know about Australia's workforce

There is a growing trend towards a more remote and flexible workforce. Why?

General population trend and subsequent skills shortage

By 2050, 26% of the population is projected to be aged 65 years and over.

What is driving workforce ageing?
1. longevity - we are living longer, 20 years longer than 8 decades ago. males into late 70's, females into mid 80's on average;
2. fertility - despite recent increase in birthrate, it is still almost half of what it was in the 1960's when the average was 3.6 per family;
3. retirements - over 4m baby boomers (born 1946-64) are entering the retirement zone and if organisations do nothing to stop them, they will move out of the workforce, often prematurely.

Caring duties

41% of all employed people provide care (2009 ABS survey results). 75% of these people provide care is for children aged under 15 years. The next most commonly cared for age group was 75 years and over.

Transport and traffic problems

Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane are facing huge traffic problems. Many employers are now offering core work hours from 10am-4pm. Outside of these hours, employees are allowed to work from home. This offers employees the option to log in from home earlier in the morning and leave later to avoid traffic delays.

Proven success of businesses that have a remote and flexible workforce

It is becoming a common workplace offering. Back in 2007, 31% of employed people worked some hours from home. Most of these people worked from home for 15 hours or less per week. IBM has 140,000 staff worldwide working from home.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Handling employers that have disregarded your career

Yesterday, I spoke with a a highly qualified and experienced woman who is being treated badly by her well known employer. Prior to going on parental leave, she negotiated (in writing) a 4 day week. On her return, she was told that the person filling in for her role had been doing a great job and she was no longer required to work in that position. They offered her a more junior role (a role that had orginally reported to her) but at the same salary level she was currently on.

Very cunning indeed. They know they are doing the wrong thing but have attempted to smooth it over by offering the same salary for a more junior role.

This example highlights a few things about this employer:
- They are not looking after the career development of employees;
- They are potentially in breach of the anti-discrimination act - now this woman is a mother, her career is no longer important;
- They obviously don't care about loyalty when it comes to their employees;
- They are not aware of a well publicised skills shortage in Australia.

The woman was very angry and disappointed with her employer. I recommended that she pursue one of two paths;
- Firstly, take the more junior role and settle back into the workplace. Use them while she prepares to springboard herself into a better role.
- Find a better role now with a better employer.

I also suggested that when she finally leaves this employer, she should outline potential breaches of employment and discrimination law in the resignation letter (start with as well as a breach of trust. This letter should then be given to her manager, and her manager's manager. It is then a formal document on record.