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