Historic work culture has, for decades adhered to rigid, formal company procedures, carried out during fixed office hours with no leeway.
A large portion of the workforce – working moms, trying to balance a full day at the office with the needs of their families – gave up their working careers to stay at home. Some juggled their work and home life with varying degrees of success but for the most part, a work/life balance was not possible.
The following trends are changing the way companies grow and flourish in the future of work.
Changing the way we think about the way we work and the future of work in the modern era is something that needs to start internally, at the very core of the working system. And by internally, I mean from within an organisation or business. Just as company policy, vision and direction are internal functions, so too should be the determination of what work actually looks like in the future within this vision.
In the last few years, there has been a seismic shift in the understanding by employers of the needs of employees. Multinationals are blazing a forward trail, using employee-friendly work policies to attract and retain skills.
But before adaption comes adoption, and when it comes to work, the very culture of our society has been groomed so long to accept certain work practices that we need to change a deeply entrenched understanding of how things are traditionally done.
Continual upgrading of policies to attract and retain good employees is best practice.
Best Practice Policy
Many pioneering businesses are doing great things to adapt to the future of work, especially in the arena of flexibility, mobile workspaces and new technologies. Some of the companies leading the way in this regard are Facebook (voted best place to work in the UK in 2015), Google and Virgin Atlantic. But outside of these industry giants remains sceptical employers and even workforce who are wary of changing a work culture that has been in place for generations before them.
Best practice in HR policy standardises the most practical and effective way to accomplish a sought-for outcome.
Numerous research questionnaires, in which employees were asked to give their top three job criteria, showed they most frequently included work/life balance.
Author of the best-selling Future of Work, Jacob Morgan, explains that key to initiating the debate around change is asking why companies do things a certain way and assessing whether, in fact, this is productive or even viable. For example, asking why it is that employees have to work 8-5 at a dedicated desk space? Adapting to the demands of workers in a ‘best practice’ synergy is a desirable goal.
Once best practice is implemented, it consistently delivers a good result with minimal complications.
The rise of on-demand workers
The prediction made some years ago that on-demand workers would make up at least 40% of the workforce in the next few years, is on the way to fulfillment.
The knowledge economy in South Africa and the world over is full of highly skilled individuals, which due to changing life circumstances such as having children, would prefer to use their experience in a more flexible scenario. By companies embracing a future mindset, this culture becomes more acceptable and opens up the flexible working economy to the benefit of all.
On-demand part-time workers – hired to solve problems or carry out short or medium-term projects – are on the rise. This type of employment is cost effective as it is outcomes based. The expense of paying staff for their physical presence during low work periods is removed. Additionally, costs are cut by saving on employee benefits.
In particular, the way in which flexible or part-time work is perceived is critical to the adaption of a future mindset. Harnessing the power of part-timers or of skilled knowledge workers, such as working moms, is often overlooked. At times, part-time and full-time workers will need to work together to ensure the success of a project. Sharing, learning and developing individual skills is a beneficial sidekick of this synergy.
Following Global Trends
In the 2017 rankings survey of the most popular five global organisations to work for, Google came out on top; Facebook was a close second, following by Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. Google’s recruiting and retention of staff is legendary and constantly evolving. Much has been written about all five. Everyone it seems wants to work for them. They are unquestionably setting global trends.
How did Google get to this enviable position? They did so by listening and being sensitive to the needs of their workforce and accommodating those needs.
Project and Performance reviews
Performance reviews should be more far more frequent than the conventional once-a-year assessment. Many of the largest global companies have abolished the annual assessment completely. The trend is increasingly on project reviews, giving individual assessments on the progress of the worker’s input on a particular project.
Both permanent and part-time workers should be reviewed frequently on their performance. Millennials in particular – the ‘instant gratification’ generation – prefer frequent feedback, in the way of encouragement or recommendations for their improvement.
The prospect of losing good employees is always disruptive and can be expensive. The solution of hiring on-demand skilled employers is practical and cost-effective. The risk of taking on a permanent employee who may not be the right person for the job is avoided.
Taking the leap into employing on-demand part-time skills is a modern workplace necessity. A new mindset is called for, to overcome the resistance to change.
After all, we live in an age of technology and increasing life pressures. The benefits of flexible work are endless and have been proven to improve productivity and output while decreasing costs and staff turnover. We challenge businesses, both small and large, to begin to adapt to a new way of thinking when it comes to future work practices.
“Can it be?” becomes “Yes, it can!”
The future growth and success of a business demands its implementation. It is the #FutureOfWork