27th March 2017
The HR Leaders Are Ready with a Business Case for Flexi Work
Anjana, Ikbal, Rajaram, Ankit, Prajakta, Sunil, Anshula, Iitesh, Swapnil & Kiran, ten of the best minds from the Mumbai HR Community, met for a dialogue on ‘Flexibility at the Work Place’ on the invitation of MyKindOfJob.Com team.This article is based on the excerpts of this dialogue.
From the beginning of the session, it was evident that Human Resource Management is no longer just about soft skills and administration but has more to do with profits& losses of organizations. All the participants were fully aware of how digital technology is changing life and therefore the need for modern work places too to change. In today’s market place, it will be difficult for an organization to survive if it does not respond to the changes in the needs & wants of the clients.For the Sales Managers, it is critical to respond quickly to the changes in the expectations of their clients. Similarly, for the HR Managers the employees are the clients and therefore they too need to respond quickly to the changes in their aspirations.
While setting the tone for the dialogue session, several myths about part time jobs and flexi work policies were dispelled. The guiding philosophy of Flexi jobs policiesis to build flexibility in full time jobs in such a way that the employees are able to strike the right work life balance with a positive impact on productivity. Part time and freelance jobs form just a small portion as the focus of these policies is more on full time employment with flexibility inbuilt into various roles.
In the modern age, behaviour patterns and expectations of employees have changed drastically due to changes in life itself. Most of the employees spend over two to three hours on the road struggling with the traffic snarls in a polluted environment which has become one of the biggest reasons for not being able to follow office timings, low energy levels and lower tolerance levels. Single unit families are on the increase so once an employee is blessed with a child, there are emergencies to attend to. The worst sufferers are working women who are forced to choose between a job and the baby. Obviously, the choice is mostly the baby and therefore a lot of good talent is lost. Even those with grown up children may have ailing parents at home who may need personal attention and can have unexpected emergencies besides the regular visits to the doctor. Life and work balance in such cases is a huge challenge.
On the other hand, there are extremely talented employees who may wish to use their talent in several areas but the fixed nature of appointment rules may be restricting them. With better medical care many employees are fit to work after the retirement age but may be looking for flexi job opportunities. All these factors need to be recognized and responded to with a sense of urgency to ensure retention of talent, for attracting the best minds and for lowering the costs without adversely affecting the productivity levels.
In fact most of the studies of the organizations which have adapted flexi work policies have reported an increase in productivity levels due to happier and satisfied employees. Flexi work policies create a win win for the employers as well as the employees. The employers save a lot of money on infrastructural costs while attracting and retaining good talent at reasonable costs. For the employees; the work life balance and extra time to follow hobbies, interests and using their unutilized talents is a big perk.
However; for some bosses acceptance of flexi work policies is a mind-set problem due to control issues and lack of skills in managing people through technology enabled processes and systems. Mind sets can be changed early if there is support from the top management which will be easy to convince if there is a concrete business case. The HR leaders therefore need to present a feasibility report for flexi work policies with the upsides and downsides so that the board can evaluate from both the angles. Flexi jobs do not suit all kind of roles and may not be very useful in certain organizations; so it’s very important to conduct a thorough audit of the job descriptions as well as the individual employees. Research also indicates that flexi jobs do not suit all personality types however discriminating employees on this basis can create a lot of discontent as it may sound unfair to many. These challenges can be managed through counselling and communication by the leadership teams on the best practices in this area.
Employees would need to be reoriented to a new way of working where technology will act as a great enabler provided the office discipline is followed at home too. Staying connected and being available to respond during office timings or during times of an urgent requirement will be critical. Bosses would need to be trained to lead and monitor through processes and systems. Since personal touch can never be replaced by e-touch it will be important to redesign the jobs where employees have to be interdependent on each other so that advantages of collaborative team work are not lost. Occasions will have to be created for face to face interactions on fixed intervals as it will be very important for personal bonding between teams.
One of the fears expressed by the group was about data security which is a real concern area. Similar doubts were raised when most were debating between cloud based technology and server based technology. Finally the cloud based technology won due to the ease of use and lower costs. For ensuring data security the employees can be directed to use dedicated organization network which can be software enabled for protection of data. The risk however would still be there but then this risk is no less even when the employees work from the office.
A go no go decision on flexi time work policies would eventually be a business decision which will be based on the profit and loss equation. The HR Community is fully aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the flexi work policies and is ready with a business case too so it’s really a question of mind sets changing in the board room. Flexi work is a reality and those who wake up early will be able to leverage yet another strategic factor contributing to the bottom line performance of an organization.
Founder of Fortune Architect
Managing Director- Asia Pacific & EMEA Markets with Saviour US INC
Respected HR Leader
CHRO, LANCO INFRATECH LIMITED
Executive Director-HR & Admin, Experion Developers
Managing Director, UK Fostering, Founder, UKINDO International & CharityWorld.com
Promoter & Director, Rockland Hospitals Network, Delhi
Vice President & HR Head- India/SA at IBM HR Consultant
Founder and a principal consultant with People Talent International
Mr Chauhan has held leadership roles in HR at leading multinational companies
COO & Co-founder of Round Ark Limited, Gurgaon
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