24 May How flexible working can help you become an employer of choice
How do you become an employer of choice? And more to the point, why should you become an employer of choice?
But before I answer both, let me set out the context in which I pose these questions. Technology is helping to eliminate various ‘factory’ processes – ie routine, repetitive manual tasks – from our back offices: many such repetitive and mechanical tasks have already disappeared and more will do so over time.
I believe that this evolution means that, in general, the value to the organisation of those employees remaining is greatly increased and likely to be more strategic than previously. Those people remaining are, in my view, the true thought workers, and some of whom may well end up running our companies in the years to come.
As the value of those remaining generally increases, and as more of us compete for their signatures at the bottom of contracts of employment, so it becomes essential for us to strive to be an employer of choice to increase the likelihood of our organisation securing that signature.
A significant number of these sought-after recruits are likely to be Millennials and, over time, they are likely to include ever increasing numbers of Generation Z. The demands and rules of engagement of these two demographic groups are diametrically different to the Baby Boomers and Generation X who immediately preceded them, and who still make up substantial part of the workforce.
With the arrival of Millennials and Generation Z into the world of work, the traditional expectations that an employee is likely to have from their work and the organisation that employs them is beginning to change rapidly.
Take the job interview as an example – to a great extent, the interviewee has become the interviewer. Millennials and Generation Z are likely to be on the front foot when applying for a job, and may well ask often probing questions about their prospective employer’s approach to a wide range of issues including the types of technology that is being used to support workers, and how well the organisation accommodates and, indeed, nurtures their different workstyles.
For instance, they may well ask how far down the flexible working route you have gone. And what your policy is with regard to the use of personal/consumer technologies at work such as a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programme. They may also question you about your corporate responsibility and sustainability policies as well as your approach to wellness.
Research shows that all these types of factors are likely to rank high with the demographic groups coming into the workforce now, and it will be those employers that can give the best answers to such questions that are likely to be most successful not just in recruiting, but in retaining the best talent, and thereby enhancing the prospects for the future success of their organisation.
In my view, no organisation should think that being an employer of choice is a ‘nice to have’– it’s a ‘must have’.
What does all that mean to your organisation?
You should first take the decision to implement flexible working now. I believe the longer you delay, the greater the cost and effort could potentially be in terms of disruption, pounds and pence, and – more importantly – in recruiting the people that you need in your organisation.
Flexible working means empowering your people to work ‘Martini’ style – anytime, anyplace, anywhere. I believe that people should be managed by the quality, quantity and timeliness of their output, and not by presenteeism: seeing the back of someone’s head and that their screen is aglow no longer ticks the box. In truth, it never did. Better management, more productive management, no more ‘command and control’. Real time dashboards measuring performance against agreed goals can motivate employees and make managers far more effective.
Flexible Working also has the potential to help contribute to increased wellness by giving employees control over when, where and how they work, enabling them to travel less and reduce the associated levels of stress.
Flexible working means that you may be able to reduce the costs of your office space to such an extent that the savings accrued in this respect may be able to help to fund the whole new way of working that can make you an employer of choice. It can also help to increase your organisation’s agility, enabling you to implement change efficiently, and potentially without always incurring all of the typical cost and disruption to business.
Flexible working can also increase your organisation’s sustainability: less travel, less office space, less equipment, less print output.
Flexible working may also have the potential to help to increase shareholder value by helping to cut tranches of costs out of the business and at the same time increasing productivity and employee engagement.
In light of the potential benefits, why would any board not want to implement these changes?