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The Flexible Job Design Imperative

The way in which people work is changing rapidly and traditional full time ways of working are no longer valid. Advancing technologies, changing demographics and new societal values are creating a significant need for more flexible ways of working. For employers, the ability to offer flexible and part-time working is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but an essential talent strategy and source of competitive advantage.


The Flexible Job Design Imperative

The way in which people work is changing rapidly and traditional full time ways of working are no longer valid.  Advancing technologies, changing demographics and new societal values are creating a significant need for more flexible ways of working. For employers, the ability to offer flexible and part-time working is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but an essential talent strategy and source of competitive advantage.

However, the reality is that in today’s fast paced, global organisations, encouraging managers to be open to flexible working practices can be a real challenge. Operational pressures, a fear of the impact on the ability to meet customer demands and the perceived complexity are often cited barriers. Understanding and evaluating the specific job design is an important and often over-looked step in the process of determining whether and how flexible and part-time working can be successfully implemented. Embedding the principles of job design for flexible working in talent processes can dramatically increase the acceptance, adoption and chance of successful implementation of flexible working patterns. 

The Cross-Generational Imperative

A unique challenge for the future workplace in the next 10 to 15 years is the presence of four generations of workers.  The three largest generational groups that will make up the future workforce are the Baby Boomers, the Generation X and Millennials. Research and evidence has clearly shown that flexible and part time working is a key requirement for attraction and retention of workers across the generational groups. Across the entire working population, an average of 22% of the workforce would like the option to work part-time at some point in their career. But the data becomes even more compelling when we look at this across employee segments and demographic groups:

  • Baby Boomer represent 30%[1] of the total UK workforce, an estimated 9 million[2]. This demographic are choosing to work longer and are looking for different ways of working to transition into retirement. Research has found that 44%[3] would like the ability to flexibly or part-time as a means to transition into retirement while maintaining their career, an estimated 4m workers.
  • Millennials or Generation Y represent 27%[4] of the total UK workforce, an estimated 8 million[5]. Research has found that this demographic want control over where and how work gets done and the ability to work flexibility is a critical factor. Specifically research has found that 33%[6] would like the opportunity to work flexibly or part-time, a total of 2.7m workers.
  • Experienced Hires (employees earning over £40,000) represent 19%[7] of the total UK workforce, an estimated 5.8 million[8]. The demand for part-time working is considerably higher amongst this demographic, with an estimated average of 34% interested in working part-time, an estimated 2.1m workers.
  • Generation X Women represent 13%[9] of the total UK workforce, an estimated 3.8 million[10]. Research has found that 90% want some form of flexibility, 80% would like the option of home-working and 60%[11] (2.3 million) would like to work part-time at some point in their careers to help them stay in the workplace.
  • Generation X Men represent 19%[12] of the total UK workforce, an estimated 5.8 million[13]. Research has found that 52% want some form of flexibility, 50% would like the option of home-working and 30%[14] (1.7 million) would like to work part-time at some point in their careers to help them stay in the workplace.

The evidence clearly shows that to be fit for the future of work organisations need to be able to offer flexible and part-time working patterns.

 The Female Talent Pipeline Imperative

One of the barriers to success is the pipeline of female talent emerging at the top of the management structure and the under-representation of women in senior management generally.

There are an estimated 1 million[15] highly qualified professional working women in the UK. These are the managers and leaders now and the pipeline of the future. Our research has shown that 90% of these women want the opportunity to work flexibly, 70% would like the ability to work from home and 60% would like the ability to work part time for a period of time to help them stay in their careers.

There is clear evidence that the lack of access to flexible and part-time career paths and job roles is one of the reasons for the leaking pipeline of female talent and the lack of representation at senior levels in organisations today.

The Flexible Working Implementation Challenge

So why do many organisations find flexible and part-time working options so difficult to embed? Why do so many individuals find it so hard to progress in their careers on a flexible or part-time basis?

Encouraging managers to be open to flexible working practices can be a real challenge. Operational pressures, a fear of the impact on the ability to meet customer demands and the perceived complexity are often cited barriers to saying “yes”. Conversely, the fear of saying “no” can result in agreement to flexible working patterns that are not sustainable for the business or the individual in the long term.

There are over fifty flexible working patterns in a typical policy. Each will have a different impact on the business and the individual’s ability to deliver successfully in the role. The bottom line is: Not all flexible working options will work for all roles. 

Job Design for Flexible Working:

Once flexible working has been accepted by managers and leaders, there needs to be the support mechanisms in place to ensure its long term success and sustainability. The consensus is that employees and managers need clear guidance in what flexible working practices will work for them.

Understanding and evaluating the specific job design is an important step in the process of determining whether and how flexible and part-time working can be successfully implemented. Having a clear understanding of what will work for a role, the team, the business and what will not, can empower managers to be more open to flexible working patterns and think more creatively about how work gets done.

Factoring job design into: job role creation, recruitment requisitions, new project team mobilisation, succession planning, organisation design and re-structure, significantly enhances the likelihood of adoption and the successful take up of right flexible working options.

 

Experts in flexible working job design and implementation, Capability Jane has designed a simple and effective methodology for assessing the viability of flexible working patterns with specific roles.  The Job Design for Flexible Working™ Methodology draws on years of experience working in, managing, evaluating and implementing successful flexible working programmes and combines leading practice job design principles with in-depth knowledge about the technicalities, stress-points and success criteria associated with flexible working.

This simple methodology has been translated into bite size learning modules for HR, Recruiters, Hiring Managers and Employees.

 

About us:

Capability Jane is a team of passionate, talented individuals collectively driven by an overarching mission to create and lead the marketplace for high quality part-time careers and in doing so, increase the number of talented women, and men, remaining, progressing and returning to their careers.  We do this by focusing on three areas of expertise: Diversity Recruitment, Flexible Working & Job Sharing. We deliver this support through three service offerings to our clients:

       Capability Jane Recruitment - Our recruitment team helps innovative and flexible organisations to source talented executives on a flexible, part-time or job share basis and to access a more diverse pool of candidates.

       Capability Jane Consulting - Our consulting team helps organisations implement and embed commercially viable and sustainable flexible working, part-time and job share practices, with a specific emphasis on senior roles.

       Capability Jane Managed Services - Our managed service team embeds integrated and sustainable job share and diversity-resourcing practices that enable organisations to attract, engage and recruit from the widest possible pool of talent.

See www.capabilityjane.com for more information.

To find out more contact

Contact Ruth Evans 07904 984 304

ruthevans@capabilityjane.com

 

 

 



[1] CIPD

[2] Based on 30million UK labour force

[3] Capability Jane research

[4] CIPD

[5] Based on 30million UK labour force

[6] Capability Jane research

[7] ONS data

[8] Based on 30million UK labour force

[9] CIPD

[10] Based on 30million UK labour force

[11] Capability Jane research. Centre for Worklife Studies.

[12] CIPD

[13] Based on 30million UK labour force

[14] Capability Jane research. Centre for Worklife Studies.

[15] Capability Jane research


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