The Uptake of Flexible Working – CIPD Report

Picking up a thread from my previous blogs about the Ageing Workforce and flexible working – I was contemplating what reasons would someone want to work flexibly and what exactly is classed as flexible working? In my case it could be that I want to spend more time sailing, perhaps when the weather is not so inclement for odd weekends in the summer. For others it may be a four-day week to enable them to do voluntary work, a part-time contract for a return-to-work mother or even annualised hours for a worker in an industry that has seasonal demand.

As a result of the changing workforce; where an ageing workforce is continuing to work longer for less hours for financial reasons; young ‘millennials’ are wanting more flexibility to gain a greater work-life balance and a whole raft of Gen X and Gen Y workers are having to look after children and probably care for older members of the family too (I am thinking of all those fellow ‘Baby Boomers’ retiring in droves!) it will certainly mean employers will need to offer a level of flexibility in the work-place that’s never been seen before.

In the CIPD report that was published recently (May 2012) on the uptake on flexible working it is clear that the provision of flexible working has risen over the last 10 years.  The Government is also looking at extending the right to request flexible working to all employees, so it seems flexible working is most definitely on the political agenda.

Whilst the CIPD report shows that there has already been a steep increase in the provision of flexible working, for most companies flexibility is around formal part-time contracts – things like home-working and four day weeks, where employees do extra hours on the days they work to make up their time, are fairly informal and still not offered as widely. Key to managing more flexibility will be the ability of employers to manage their workforce.  It will be very interesting to see what will happen if the Government does extend the right to request flexible working to all workers – not just parents – I think I will draft my request for more sailing time today, just in case. J

“Best In Class?” You are Probably Using Workforce Analytics

Still thinking about the aging workforce I read an interesting article in the Financial Director discussing the importance of Workforce Analytics data.

“In 2009, IBM found just 28% of 400 HR professionals used any form of analytics for defining knowledge, skills and capability requirements needed to execute the business’ strategy”

A shocking statistic in itself but the article went on to point out that since then an additional 500,000 people are without work, there has been a 10% drop in university applications and the number of people expected to be working beyond 65 is set to be 6% by 2019.

The point here and in my previous blog is that the workforce is changing rapidly, it is well recognized and we will all have to get used to the need to be far more predictive of the future and use Workforce Analytics to predict the future workforce requirements and be ready for them.

One of the studies referred to in the article was by The Aberdeen Group and they found that companies that incorporate Workforce Analytics data into their analytics tools are three times more likely to achieve “Best in Class” than those that do not. In this same article London Waste talks about the way they are using Workforce Analytics to better tender for new work and predict future staffing requirements.

Well worth reading, it helps us all understand why Workforce Analytics are crucial to maintaining a competitive advantage.

Are you feeling old?

Since 2009 more people are leaving the workforce than entering . The lack of skilled workers coming through the ranks and retirement of older workers is starting to take effect.

According to the Office for National Statistics over the last 25 years the population aged 65 and over has increased by 1.7 million people. By 2034, they predict that 23 per cent of the population is projected to be aged 65 and over compared to just 18 per cent aged under 16.

The government has implemented a range of employment-prolonging measures such as extending the flexible working regulations, the introduction of age discrimination legislation and the inevitable increase in the default retirement age. Employers must take this issue seriously and assess the likely impact on their own businesses and then take the necessary measures to alleviate the issue.

So what measures should companies consider?

Well let’s remember that the key objective is to retain the skills, experience and productivity that our older workers offer. That means being mindful of their needs and adjusting their working conditions accordingly.

Without doubt older workers are looking for a better work life balance with many of them having to support both their own families and aging parents. Flexible working arrangements really assist employees in this situation by helping to strike that work-life balance and keep them engaged. Remember, flexible working also benefits your company too. Flexible work contracts mean you can better align your staffing to business demand, thereby reducing wasted labour hours and improving productivity.

Retaining employees that are in the enviable position of being able to dictate when they retire requires organisations to provide meaningful and interesting work. By making jobs more attractive, continuing to provide opportunities to broaden their skill set and getting them involved with the training and mentoring of younger workers, those older employees are more likely to remain loyal and engaged. Never forget that engaged employees have a direct impact on your ability to drive revenue and profit from your organisation.

Technology in the form of Workforce Management plays a crucial role in helping companies to manage their ageing workforce. It ease’s the burden of managing the significant increase in flexible working requests. Workforce Management maximises the business benefits of flexible working by automatically aligning staff schedules to customer demand.

Absence management helps employers spot unusual absence trends and those early signs of serious health problems. Currently ill health is the major cause of early retirement.

In the not too distant future the workforce will look entirely different to that of today; we are already seeing older workers holding the ace cards like never before. Many organisations are embracing change by implement processes and systems to support the needs of older workers. For those that haven’t I’d suggest you start to assess the impact that the ageing workforce will have on your business.