The future is flexible

Flexible working is vital if companies want to stay ahead and think long term, a symposium heard last week.

While the Government seems to be getting cold feet over flexible working in the short term, forward-thinking employers are looking at the long term picture.
 
"Fit for the Future",  a recent culture and workplace dynamics symposium, was attended by over 70 delegates from public and private sectors. The aim was for employers to take a good hard look at the demographics and figure out how they could position themselves best for the future.
 
The main focus was on the need for cultural change in the workplace to attract the talent pool of the next generation, Generation Y, which is likely to be a lot more female.
 
The event, held in London, was hosted by Catalyst, a global organisation working to build inclusive workplaces, and Opportunity Now, a UK membership organisation for employers committed to creating an inclusive workplace for women.
 
Generation Y are people born from 1980 to present. The demographics presented by Deloitte, one of the largest professional services companies in the world, were stark:

1.  There is a shrinking talent pool. During the next decade it is predicted that there will be a huge gap between supply and demand of skilled workers.


2. Generation Y is likely to be characterised by changing family structures, with fathers increasingly willing to take on a lot more of the childcare.

3. Increased numbers of skilled women (58% of higher education students are
female in the US and EU)


4. Changing expectations of men – for instance, they won’t sacrifice their personal/family time to the degree that the current Generation X-ers do.

5. A 20% increase in families where both parents work.

6. Growing technological changes which make flexible working easier.

The symposium heard that in order to attract and retain talent employers are going to have to adapt to the needs and expectations of Generation Y.  Diversity and flexible working emerged as key factors in addressing the cultural balance. 
Deloitte 
Deloitte has implemented an innovative flexible working plan in the US and Netherlands called Mass Career Customisation which aims to give it a lead over its competitors. 

Their model centres around four areas where flexibility can be built into the way a person chooses to work: pace [the pace of their career progression], workload, location [where work is performed] and role [the amount of responsibility they are willing to take on].

Employees taking part were given a choice to either "dial up" (increase workloads) or "dial down" (decrease workloads). Many choose to accelerate their careers before they have family responsibilities, but those who choose to “dial down” can  “dial up” when they feel able and ready.

With regard to performance, Deloitte employees are judged by their output, not the hours they put in and those who work fewer hours do not feel devalued, Deloitte told the symposium.

 
 





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