When we talk about Millennials and Generation Z’s we think of the future workforce; we think tech savvy, smart, dynamic professionals who demand to work the way they want in an environment they want.
But the future is here and millennials especially are taking over the workforce. In the workplace environment this is creating a new wave of what is being dubbed Generation Flex.
According to a recent Global Workspace Survey undertaken by IWG, the International Workspace Group and leading global flexible workspace provider, 83% of workers around the world said they would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working.
Another piece of research by Timewise found that out of the 3,000 adults who were surveyed, 73% of those aged 18—34, who are working full time, are doing so flexibly.
Generation Flex has clear ideas of where and when they want to work and if a business can’t meet these needs, they’re in danger of losing out on skilled talent.
Don’t overthink your flexible working options; ask your staff what would suit them.
You might think that all of your staff want completely remote working when actually they may rather come in late a few times a week to miss the rush hour traffic. You may think everyone wants a Friday off, where some of your team might choose to work Friday, Saturday, Sunday and take three weekdays off.
Your business may have particular roles – those in client-facing positions perhaps – where it is less feasible to offer flexible working, so you may need to outline where it will not work and come up with alternatives where possible (like working from home on days when there are no meetings scheduled, leaving early when a reception is quiet, or bringing a dog to work).
This is an essential part of flexible working. If managers or senior team members don’t back the concept, staff won’t feel comfortable asking for alternative arrangements due to fear of being judged, there’s a risk the whole incentive wont work. Get your managers on board by allowing them flexibility and explaining the company wide benefits flexible working can offer.
One of the biggest factors for a company not becoming flexible is that staff members are ‘needed’ in the office. This may be because your team has a catch up meeting every morning or needs access to files in a physical location. Well known solutions like SharePoint, Dropbox and more can allow your staff to access their work documents from any remote location and solutions like Skype and WhatsApp can mean meetings can be held anywhere. There is also more niche digital options like digital to-do list and project management software which can mean you can track your team as they complete tasks.
Vicky Murphy, HR Manager at STEP has some advice on how to implement flexible working in your business.
Smaller businesses can see themselves benefit from this with more than half of the 15,000 professionals surveyed by the IWG said that having a choice of work location is more important than working for a prestigious company.
As the economy shifts and with the Scottish unemployment rate at a record low of 3.5% any business that is serious about building a successful company culture and talent pool needs to adapt to a flexible working model.
Now, I’m not talking lunch time yoga and champagne Fridays, employees are asking for flexible working to fit in with their personal lives.
Working with many small to medium sized businesses as their HR resource I can completely appreciate the fear and challenges that come with introducing flexible working.
Here are five steps that can help your business move towards flexible working in a way that works for your business needs and keeps your employees happy.
For most business and in particular small businesses being able to manage and track hours even for remote workers is vital.
Time and attendance software can help give managers visibility into who has worked when. Most of these software options work on a clock-in system which can be monitored. This means that managers need to be task and project orientated to ensure their company is getting the most out of their team under flexible conditions.
As with any policy, it’s important to keep it under review to ensure it continues to deliver for both the business and employees. Speak to line managers regularly to find out how it is working from their perspective and keep track of savings made in areas such as recruitment, training and absence.
Speak to employees to get their take on this; flexible working may not be right for everyone, so it’s possible you will need to adapt arrangements to ensure staff do not feel cut off or isolated.
While we understand that it may be tempting to dismiss flexible working as a trend of lazy and entitled millennials, findings show that times are changing and managers and business owners need to accept the bigger picture. Ultimately the key belief driving millennials is the fact that productivity should be measured by output, rather than hours worked. This is a generation of efficient and technologically minded individuals, who value their time and know a myriad of ways to save it.
If you need support in implementing a flexible workplace we can help.
Your business may be eligible for a Workplace Innovation Voucher to contribute up to £5,000 towards activities that will allow your business to introduce new, innovative practices. To discuss this further please contact Vicky Murphy on HR@stepsctoland.co.uk.