How the demand for work flexibility is driving job change and may shape HR in future

In the bigger scheme of things, we know workforce culture undergoes changes when new generation of workers stream in and organizations grapple with this change in a suitable pace, with small to significant policy changes. As the saying goes, the baton is passed on and ‘old order may change yielding place to new’. But in today’s scenario when job changes by younger employees is so frequent, the induction and preservation of organisation culture is not as easy.  While changing jobs for better career opportunities have always been a necessity and reality, a new and significant trend and change that is taking place in workforce behaviour is that more and more people are gravitating towards more work-flexibility. Along with that a good number of people are happy to explore flexible work options. These factors are real and this factor is influencing the job changes.  Work Data analysis from LinkedIn surveys and job preference shows that compared to few years back more and more employees are asking for work flexibility.

While technological progress by way of cloud environment and powerful hand held devices, connectivity and access everywhere has definitely given the possibility. But this new generation has understood that with the technological advancement there comes both freedom as well as bondage. While office life in earlier generations was confined to fixed hours within office, opening up of connectivity, access and locational constraints has also made it more required to stay connected to office all time any time. This is eating into the personal space. At the same time uncertainties have increased. People no longer feel sure about the jobs they are in today. Disruptions in business, falling behind business target, mergers and acquisitions and downsizing of employees is a reality. The comfort zone of ‘having a good job’ has been snatched away, the desire to stay on and commit to one thing has also gone. Even while on a job, many employees are always exploring options for fall back or options to branch out.   Creativity has always driven human progress and while past centuries too witnessed monumental creativities paving the way for today, now each day with more access and tools in every hand creativity in the area of opportunity creation is at its peak. New options to carve out a job opportunity exists. Talented and skilled people with technology in their grasp are branching off to and now desire to do more with their lives be ready for alternative options, nurture their many talents, be ready for disruptions, fulfill their varied goalsand not be dependent on just one option in life.

So how does all these change the game for organizations? How does HR gear up to accommodate the upcoming change in workforce expectations? How Should HR and recruiting systems adapt and to handle the changed world?  One way would be to move in the direction of greater predictive analysis to assess right from applicant stage till their exit on parameters like- which candidates may join , or which candidates may stay for longer duration, who are likely to leave and why. It may not always be money factor that drives employee to leave. It could be those other factors and if an employee is valuable enough or worthy of retention can some options be rolled out? One key aspect is to accept and allow various model of work-flexibility, engage more consultants for areas that are permissible. Some countries are adopting 4 day week as a model. Some provide Sabbatical and temporary backfill employees. Not all industry or job segments are suitable for these but a good number of organizations may re-shape their policies and culture if they want to, in order to accept this inevitable change and ensure the availability and retention of talented workforce. Secondly if organizations can engage and accommodate features like incubation and sponsoring of new initiatives that employees may be keen on, basically investing and partnering good ideas it could help.  Creating incubation centres and Idea centres would be a great way. Some employees may be keen on social causes, so adopting employee volunteering and sponsoring social initiatives as acceptable practice may also serve corporate social responsibility.Basically it is now time for organizations to invest in good think tank who could focus on innovative ways to create employer-employee partnership.

About the author:

Sonali Sengupta is a regular contributor on SOAIS blogs and brings to the table 25 years of HR domain & technology experience. She has led several large HR transformation programs and has seen HR evolve from a back-office, operations function to a strategic enabler of customer businesses. Sonali can be contacted at sonali.sengupta2001@gmail.com

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