Categories
Business Flexible Working Future of work

The Great Resignation… will your business feel the impact?

70% of FindYourFlex users polled between the 5th & 12th of July 2021 are CURRENTLY EMPLOYED and are pro-actively seeking MORE FLEXIBLE employment opportunities.

Last month a staggering 4 million people in the US quit their jobs (US Labor Department). This is the highest number since records began in December 2000. 

Interestingly but not surprising, more than 740k worked in the leisure and hospitality industry. This includes jobs in hotels, bars and restaurants, theme parks and other entertainment venues. Noticeably all employers who have been impacted most by changes to lockdowns, mask wearing, furloughs and availability of shifts.  However, that still leaves a whooping 3.3M people resigning from the more ‘covid resilient’ sectors.

So what is causing this great resignation and is the same happening here in the UK?

A study in the UK, has found a lot of people (38% of those currently employed) are seriously thinking about quitting OR are looking to change roles in the next year.

The cause is unknown. Could we assume it is a temporary rebound from people deciding to hold on to their jobs during the pandemic? Or is something more permanent on the horizon?

Perhaps people are finding they’re unhappy with how they’ve been handled during the pandemic? Perhaps having the flexibility people have grown to love is being revoked as they approach the ‘great return’? Or, is it simply burnout?

The Find Your Flex team has always said that an employee’s alignment with their company’s culture, behaviours and values will become increasingly important. For some, it’s the key driver in deciding where they work. 

So which is the right answer, what is happening with this great resignation?

Well, in our opinion, this mass resignation tells us that the balance of power has shifted. 

The Personio study of 2,000 employees found that there’s a worrying disconnect between employers’ perception of what will encourage their staff to leave and employees’ reality. 

Reinforcing this, and according to a recent report from Microsoft 

  • 41% of the global workforce is considering leaving their jobs. 
  • One in five of the global survey respondents say their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance. 
  • 54% feel overworked. 
  • 39% feel exhausted. 
  • And trillions of productivity signals from Microsoft 365 quantify the precise ‘digital exhaustion’ workers are feeling.

However, the findings of the Personio study found that HR decision makers underestimate the pushing power of a toxic workplace culture. Instead, HR decision makers believed factors such as furlough, being asked to go back to the office full-time or a reduction in benefits would have the biggest influence on an employee’s leaving.

As we are currently seeing on jobs.findyourflex.co.uk this July, 70% of job seekers are employees who are exercising their right to choose for who, where and how they work.  

The next move for employers is a no brainer 

Treat employees fairly and take a long hard look at your company values, culture and behaviours. 

  • If you are one of the businesses saying – what is this great resignation? We love our staff and they have remained with us. Then fabulous – get in touch so we can shout your story from the (virtual) rooftops.
  • If you are nodding your head in agreement and your organisation has seen high rates of attrition then perhaps we need to dig deeper. We need to find solutions that will help you realign your company values and flexible working policies. This will lead to greater staff retention and attracting new talent.

So what of the remaining 30% of jobseekers, not currently in employment?

Research from the CIPD and Office of National Statistics in June, reflects the biggest impact on joblessness has been on our older workforce. This trend has been happening since January 21′ on our platform, with the 45+ age group growing to 30% of our audience share. The research however fails to show the impact that Covid amplified by automation, has also made on the younger generations and specifically for women throughout the last 18 months. 

So with those audience groups in mind, along with the UK’s appetite to build back with a focus on greater diversity and inclusivity, we really must use this time to look at realign our businesses values & flexibility on offer.

If businesses don’t know how to implement flexibility in their workforce, the easiest thing to do is to create each role as an output. Promoting and monetising a workforce in this way allows businesses to finally move their employees from a ‘fixed cost – liability’ to a ‘variable cost – asset’. It will show you for the first time how really flexible you can afford to be.

I’m happy to talk to any business who wants to know more.

My final thoughts…

I think many of us have felt burnt out emotionally and physically over the last 18 months. Now that we can get out more and start to work in more places, it will become vitally important to become more healthy about work.  Wellbeing, balance, culture and value driven behaviours have got to take centre stage in the future of work.  

With support from the Government, pro-activity and trust given by employers and encouragement, open communication and adoption by employees, will the threat of the great resignation be lifted.

Cheney Hamilton

CEO and founder, The Find Your Flex Group

Categories
Flexible Working Future of work Parental

Flexible Working Builds Better Communities

It is minus 20°C and it has been pitch dark since two o’clock in the afternoon. Around 4.30pm a throng of parents wait for their little ones in a floodlit school playground in wintery Helsinki. Much chatter can be heard amongst people stamping their feet and rubbing their hands against the cold. I am often the only women in this congregation and we swap advice and make plans to meet up with or without our children. The atmosphere, in contrast to the unrelenting weather, is warm and friendly. This is the community that flexible working built.

Personal and public

Flex working patterns are seen as individualised, as they are tailored to meet a specific person’s needs whether related to childcare or other aspects of life. This is a desirable and effective approach which promotes a good work/life balance. However, the cumulative effect that agile work formats have on communities is underestimated. If everyone has the chance to work flexibly, this has a knock-on effect on how we organise our lives and how interact with others in our social milieu.

Starting at the Finnish end

In Finland, flexibility starts early. Initially introduced to meet the needs of parents, alternative work patterns have become so widespread and accepted that their use for those without children is now practicable. After all, the systems are already in place. When children do come along, parental leave packages are generous and, yes, fathers get a shot at it too. Already happy bubbles of new parents start meeting up – most importantly encompassing both genders.

In London, my husband was the only father at the school gates for pick up. In Helsinki, he was one among many and developed a good social network. When he took shared parental leave in the UK, he took it alone. In Finland there would have been whole groups of Dads (and Mums) to join.

Gender segregation in child rearing is much less apparent in Helsinki and I was often invited by the fathers to join them for coffee and for outings. When I wanted to arrange a playdate or needed to know something in relation to my son (where is the best dentist?) it was often a father that I rang up. It was interesting and heartening to see so many men take on the family admin which usually falls to the women. “We get to be around more, so we do more,” explained one father.

Flexibility oils the system

The reason for this type of interaction and societal structures is largely down to flexible working. Men and women both have the chance to arrange their lives to best suit their circumstances. Admittedly cost-effective childcare does play a role. For a whole month of afternoon playtime (school finishes at 1.30pm) including a hot snack until a 5pm pick-up, I paid just £140. In some places in the UK, you would be lucky to get 3 afternoons for that amount.

But there is little point in having affordable childcare unless a parent – ideally both – can actually make it out of the office for the pick-up. Jan, a busy lawyer who is a state prosecutor, says, “I have to leave early twice a week because my wife also works. So that is what I do. And I want to.” His wife, Krista, who works in banking, has just been promoted. Flexibility for men not only benefits them but has an impact on how women progress in their careers. Finland’s Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, was elected to the post whilst still just in her early thirties and with a baby in her arms.

Happy flexible days

For four consecutive years Finland was named as the happiest country in the world by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network which publishes, annually, a report gauging the happiness of people around the world. Moving to live in Helsinki certainly made us smile.

Susha Chandrasekhar

Categories
Flexible Working Future of work

Why employers need to understand and embrace the true meaning of flexible working

Hybrid working shouldn’t be mistaken for fully flexible working, argue HR and diversity and inclusion experts. Companies that can make the distinction are set to be the winners in the impending “great resignation”.

By MaryLou Costa

Hybrid working is dominating the post-pandemic conversation, but most employers are missing the point: that it’s just one form of flexible working, that doesn’t necessarily equate to overall flexibility.

That’s according to HR and diversity and inclusion experts. They fear it will be too easy for company leaders to revert to the comfort zone of the status quo, rather than invest in genuine flexible working consultations and frameworks – and in some cases, change their culture.

“Everything still remains so uncertain, that getting ‘back to normal’ and going back to the office, even for two days a week, creates that certainty company leaders are looking for right now,” explains Nicola Pease, founder of flexible work consultancy Ignite and a former HR leader at Jaguar Land Rover.

“But I define flexible working as being about not just the where, but the when and the how. That’s what’s often being missed from the narrative around hybrid work. If everybody in every company in the world went to hybrid working, it would still not solve the issues around flexible working, as it would still not allow everybody to work in a way that best suits them. Because it’s not all about location.”

Paving the way for ‘asynchronous working’

The ‘when’ and the ‘how’ are what companies like file storage platform Dropbox have aimed to redefine for its 2,500 strong workforce, after announcing late last year its shift to becoming a remote-first employer. 

It has adopted a new structure in which four set hours are carved out daily for team meetings, with individuals able to decide what hours they work the rest of the day. These hours, it has decreed, should be set aside for ‘asynchronous working’, or work that people can concentrate on themselves, using collaborative tech tools to gather any necessary feedback from colleagues.

For all the materials it has released outlining its new work policy, though, Dropbox’s HR leaders have acknowledged a crucial point – that it will be a work in progress that constantly evolves.

Accepting the evolving nature of flexible work policies

That confidence to work in a ‘trial and error’ way – and “be flexible about being flexible” – is what diversity and inclusion specialist at Green Eyes Consulting, Di Keller, believes will set employers apart as true champions of flexible working.

“We’ve created some principles, but are trying to hand it over to teams to define what their own framework is. This is around their own when, where, and how, but also the business needs and the needs of the team, because we have quite diverse teams,” says Keller, who is also the strategic equality, diversity and inclusion lead for Karbon Homes.

“But policies shouldn’t be hard and fast because we’re in unknown territory. Whatever any organisation puts in needs to remain continually under review. Otherwise, people will just flop back into the office, nine to five without even thinking about it. Because that’s a comfy pair of slippers we don’t have to work too hard on. And the mentality often is, everybody used to work like that – so it must have been all right.”

Empowering managers

Another challenge businesses are facing with genuine flexible working is educating managers to manage flexible teams, adds Pease.

“Some of the concerns I’m hearing from line managers is more pressure, on making decisions on how their team should work, and how they are going to deliver whenever and wherever their teams are working,” she relays.

“Truly flexible organisations will be working on supporting their managers in the practical implementation – as well as trusting employees to come up with the right decisions that are going to work.”

Flexible working as a diversity and inclusion driver

Both Pease and Keller agree it’s not an easy process. So why keep pushing for a holistic flexible working approach, if the corporate appetite to roll it out is often not there?

Because genuine flexible working is one of the biggest organic drivers of diversity, equality and inclusion, argues Cheney Hamilton, founder and managing director of Find Your Flex. The website’s user data reveals a broad spectrum of people looking for flexible working, proving that it’s no longer just the desire of working mothers, as it was previously deemed.

“Looking at our site user data, we reached gender parity last November. Then from January to March, given the decline in high street retail, we saw a massive influx in women over 45,” Hamilton reveals.

“This was mainly white women, then from April, we saw more women from the BAME community. We also have strong representation from the LBTQI+ and disabled community.”

Leveling out gender inequality, though, is one of Keller’s main motivations for advocating flexible working.

“For men who want a more hands-on experience as a father, flexible working opens a huge door for them that was previously iron bolted,” she notes. 

“And for some organisations, it’s shown them innovation beyond anything they could have imagined, that they can really go and build on now. So why would you not pursue flexible working?”

Coming out on top in the ‘great resignation’

Such positive personal experiences of flexible working will now be shaping what people are looking for from an employer, believes Pease. This shouldn’t be taken lightly, she warns, if predictions of an impending ‘great resignation’ become reality. Indeed, Microsoft research shows 40% of people want to change jobs this year.

“I’ve done three different surveys now with three different companies. 80 to 90% of people are saying they want to work more flexibly, and have more choice about where – and when – they work,” Pease shares.

“If a company says they can’t offer flexibility, I don’t think that 80% of people are going to go, ‘okay, we’ll just carry on as we were before’. They’re going to see if they can find that somewhere else. Organisations that don’t get on board with flexible working will find they lose their top talent to ones that are.”

Needing to re-identify flexible working post-pandemic

But one final piece of insight from Keller – don’t mistake flexible working for the way many people have worked during the pandemic.

“There is definitely a need to re-identify flexible working. Because the enforced hideous way we’ve had to work over the last 15 months is what people see as flexible working. And there is flexibility within that, but it’s definitely not flexible working,” she clarifies.

“Flexible working is being able to work how I want, where I want, and to a degree, when I want – providing it meets my business needs, my work needs and my personal needs.”

MaryLou Costa is a freelance writer fascinated by the future of work, especially changes that advance women’s careers. Her work has featured in The Guardian, The Observer, Business Insider, Stylist, Raconteur, Sifted, Digiday, UNLEASH, Marketing Week and others, plus she has appeared on Times Radio, BBC and Sky News. 

Categories
Careers Equality and Diversity Future of work

Are We Doing Enough For Women In STEM Roles?

There’s no denying the gender gap that exists in so many industries, women in STEM roles are sadly no exception to this. But research into this has raised some concerning questions and even more concerning answers. There are not enough women in STEM roles, that much is clear but is enough being done to change that?

With the Edinburgh Science Festival coming up, we at Find Your Flex thought this is a topic we want to discuss. Exploring why this is still an issue and the possible solutions to this and why change in this area is so important.

Is there a gender gap in STEM industries?

Naturally we don’t just want to state there is a gender gap without backing it up. But the short answer is yes; there is a significant gap when it comes to women in STEM roles. This is proven by the PwC’s Tech She Can Charter and their report on Women in Tech in the UK. In 2017, WISE conducted research that showed that only 23% of people in STEM occupations were female. This makes over three quarters of the workforce in these roles male. Whats worse is that a separate study in the US shows that only 5% of women were in STEM leadership roles.

Now it would not be fair to say there has been no progress. As the research of WISE revealed that the number of women in STEM roles had increased by 2% from the previous year. Is this progress? Yes… is it enough? No. If this increase per year holds steady it would still be over a decade before there is an equal number of men and women in STEM roles. That is also not taking the pandemic into consideration, this could have had an impact on that increase percentage one way or the other. Either way it is not good enough, the gap needs to be closed at a far quicker rate. So, where does the problem begin?

The Lack of Girls Studying STEM Subjects in School

There are a lot of employment issues that when traced back to their source can start in education. PwC’s research shows that this issue may be no different. They conducted a survey that of over 1000 school students; 83% of the males were studying STEM subjects, compared with only 64% females. Now 19% may not seem like much of a difference however, when you take into account the number of STEM subjects and the number of students, this is still a concerning gap.

A similar statistic in university students studying STEM subjects shows a 52% male versus 30% female difference. But when you break it down the results are more shocking. For example Engineering takes 13% of male STEM students but only 2% female, which says a lot. But it still doesn’t answer the question of why? During interviews, young women stated they didn’t want to study STEM subject as it does not factor into the career they want. Though what is worrying is the response when asked if at any point during their education (including careers advice) a role in technology was suggested. Only 16% of girls had technology careers suggested to them, whereas 33% of males were given these suggestions.

This goes hand in hand with the fact that during interviews many of the young women indicated that many STEM subjects and roles are male dominated which is why they did not wish to study them. And they are right, these statistics prove that. But they also sadly prove that schools are not doing enough to encourage otherwise. And this needs to change.

Early years education and STEM

As signatories of The Tech Talent Charter we are aware of such organisations such as Tech She Can. A charter in which signatories pledge to work with  schools across the UK to educate and inspire pupils and teachers about technology careers.

Let’s not forget the importance of early years education. These children are our future. A future that needs the brightest and most imaginative individuals to be able to flourish, regardless of gender or background. This is the point when children absorb information like sponges. The formative stage where children learn more quickly that at any other stage in life. It is at this point we need to inspire our children. Our young girls need role models and a complete removal from gender bias in STEM. Perhaps the focus should be on our teachers and equipping them with the tools needed to do this.

Women in STEM roles in the Media and Pop-Culture

In PwC’s study, only 22% of students could name a well-known female working in technology. The truth is when you think of famous people in STEM roles, the vast majority are male. There are of course many pioneering women in STEM roles throughout history. Women like Ada Lovelace or Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and many more. Yet despite the numerous women who have revolutionized the world through their work in STEM roles, their names don’t immediately spring to mind. We tend to think of the Steven Hawkings or Albert Einsteins, but why? It could be down to the fact the media over the years have recognized and celebrated the male figures over women. Perhaps the media should be doing more to promote women in STEM roles. Especially during the pandemic, both men and women dealing with this issue have given information and opinions via news channels and in print.

In terms of pop-culture, there are women portrayed in STEM roles in film and particularly television. One that comes to mind is The Big Bang Theory, a comedy that originally started with a cast in which all the scientists were male. Though this changed as the series progressed with female scientists being showcased and two becoming mainstay cast members. Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz with a Ph. D in microbiology and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler a neurobiologist, the latter of whom’s actress has a Ph. D in neuroscience in real life. The show and characters are to this day extremely popular. The two showcased how the females of the group were just as intelligent and successful as their male counterparts and had equally large personalities.

Though other hit television shows have also portrayed STEM female role models. Shows such as Body of Proof; featuring a female protagonist Dr. Megan Hunt; a former Neurosurgeon turned Medical Examiner who has a straight-talking, never-back-down attitude. Even featuring a female in a STEM leadership role as Dr. Kate Murphy is the Chief Medical Examiner. Though there are other shows that showcase females in STEM roles: Grays Anatomy, Casualty, Holby City, Doctor Who etc. So in terms of pop-culture there isn’t a lack of fictional females in STEM roles, so why is there still a lack of non-fictional females in these roles? Its high time life started imitating art on that score.

How to get More Women In STEM roles?

PwC believe that the technology sector must take steps to deal with some of these highlighted issues. However, this should be the responsibility of all STEM industries to get more women into STEM roles as a whole. First and foremost it is the responsibility of STEM organisations to get more involved in the education of young people. They need to do more to raise awareness and showcase the importance of these roles. Make them attractive to young women as well as men. Many students did indicate the reason they wouldn’t consider a role in technology is they don’t know enough about it. STEM organisations should also look inwards to ensure they are providing the women in their company with the same opportunities as the men. More women in senior STEM roles creates more role models and inspirations for future generations.

Schools also need to do better in encouraging girls to study STEM subjects and pursue STEM careers. The statistics above show there is not enough encouragement or access on either front. If girls voice concerns on entering male dominant industries, there needs to be encouragement to overcome this. The research showed roles that make a difference were appealing to young women. Therefore there should be encouragement from both schools and STEM organisations that pursuing these roles makes a difference. A shift in perception is the first and arguably most important step.

The media need to do better at portraying female STEM role models. Make a bigger splash about the life altering contributions females make in STEM fields. Its important that these women are at the forefront of STEM fields to give young women something to aspire to and show them that they are just a capable as any males in this area. Pop-culture is doing a good job at presenting women in these roles, however there is room for improvement. Perhaps television, film and books aimed at a much younger audience should feature more STEM characters. This very well could plant the seeds of girls pursuing STEM fields when they are older.

Hopefully when young girls are grown up enough to make a decision whether or not to pursue a STEM career, the world will be a different place. One where there are just as many female role models in this sector and no obstacles. Its up to society to drive these changes, we need do our best now to set the wheels in motion.

If you want to read more about inspirational women in this and other fields click here! Or more about The Tech Talent Charter then click here.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work Output

Input and Output – The Human Mechanics of Work

In work, how much focus is there on input as opposed to output? Jobs and projects are often defined by the number of hours that must be worked, where and when they must be worked, the personal qualities and experiences that are required to be inputted and so on. By defining such matters at the outset, there is a sense that this will inexorably lead to the desired result.

Time and Motion

A prominent human time-motion study was carried out by Frederick Taylor. An employee’s work in a factory would be timed with a stopwatch and from that the output would be calculated. Human beings were treated as automatons and indeed much of the manufacturing work done in Taylor’s era would be done by machines today. There was an emphasis on control within strictly defined limits with no flexibility for a person to manage their own input in the way that suited them and their lives in order to reach the same output destination.

Start at the destination

Output is crucial as it is how we define and measure attainment and how we tackle the bottom line of making money.

Begin with the end in mind.

Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

This method requires having a clear, overriding vision of what the outcome should be and then crystallising that into a useable set of statements. If you have an output mission statement, the question arises as to what extent you need to control input.

Job descriptions

The most immediate way of controlling input is through a job description which refers exclusively to inputs rather than outputs. Many such statements also contain a plethora of attributes that may not actually be required for the job in hand.

For example, “outgoing” may be used as recruiting requirement for new employees. But if a person is working from home on invoicing with little direct human contact, is “outgoing” really an absolutely necessary quality? The output is that a certain number of invoices need to be processed in timely manner. If that is fulfilled, the intended outcome has been reached. The employee concerned may indeed be an introvert or someone who is neurodiverse but who thrives on procedure and steadily gets the job done well.

Monitoring

Getting the most out of employees and hitting targets is an art form, with styles ranging from micro-management to complete laissez-faire. By focusing on the output, however, a worker has more freedom about how to reach the point of success.

Clearly some sectors are, of their nature, regimented. NHS nurses and those operating customer service helplines must be present at certain times and follow defined procedures. But a more nuanced approach can be used to effect where there is scope for autonomy.

For example, if you need a project to be completed in a month, is it necessary to dictate exactly how it is done? A person can work flexibly to suit their needs, doing the work later on in the evening, at home, or whenever is convenient. Obviously, the worker would need to be available to participate in relevant team meetings and would need some supervision along the way. But checking in on whether the work is being doing correctly is not the same as checking up how the employee is doing it in terms of personal time management and working strategy.

Mechanisms

When it comes to machines, we have chemistry and physics equations to help us determine precisely what goes in, when, in what proportions and what should come out. Humans are rather more complicated, approaching matters according to their personal characteristics, commitments and lifestyles. When it comes to people, different inputs can create the same output. With that in mind, it’s now time to take the “output challenge” and review how we recruit and manage people

Categories
Business Flexible Working Future of work

Hybrid Working Is Not The Same As Flexible Working

As a lesser educated character on The Big Bang Theory once hypothesised… “All jacuzzi’s are hot tubs, but not all hot tubs are jacuzzi’s”. I’d like to apply this insight here with Hybrid Working and Flexible Working. Let’s not risk falling into that “4 Day Week” again. When it comes to flexible working there is no one size fits all solution.

Communicating Flexible Working

Flexible working and the policies which govern it, should be about how businesses are willing to communicate. Good communication should be embedded in an organisations values, culture and subsequent behaviours. We should view employees as individuals rather than an asset/fixed cost or number on the bottom line. It’s about allowing them to use their voice and us as business leaders, listening. To be ‘engaged’ our employees need to be heard. Therefore collaboration is key to ascertaining what can make our people productive members of a team. There needs to be the understanding that what works one week, can just as easily change in the next – for both parties. 

TRUE flexible working paves the way for a more diverse and inclusive workplace. The Output model is a tool we can use to make this happen.

Flexible Working and Output Based Models

Society and ethical businesses must move away from 1950’s work modalities. It is vital that we begin to look at all of our roles and functions as an output. This means to engage with candidates based on what they can deliver – not what they look like, what school they’ve come from, their gender or socio-economic background. If you can’t do that, you are in danger of not being accessible as an employer, as we march into the future of work today.

People are seeking flexible working opportunities in their thousands, and only 40% of them are parents. If the last 12 months have taught us nothing else, its how quickly life can change for the masses. For the individual it can be even quicker and occur more often.

The Future Of Work

We have got to learn lessons from the last 12 months. Businesses have got to move forward, with their eyes open and with a new way of thinking. Let’s embody the scientists who will lead us out of this mess that is Covid 19. This is our moment to be ingenious, intuitive, exciting and ground breaking. 

My team and I can see a future of work, that doesn’t leave anyone behind. One that we know is going to require some shifts in mindset and strong leadership. Furthermore we need to be looking a re-skilling those at risk of automation driven job loss. Additionally businesses need to engage with schools and represent their talent as role models for our children.

The narrative around flexible working has to change. There is only a single ‘one size fits all solution’. That is to embed in the values and culture of an organisation that flexible working is about open conversations regarding productivity and staff wellbeing.

Don’t Use Flexible Working And Hybrid Working Interchangeably

So we are asking employers not to replace their flexible working agenda’s with hybrid working. Hybrid working is one of many solutions. It is not the only solution.

#ChangeInOurLifetime

Categories
Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Future of work

Flex Working – An Age Old Question

At what age do you no longer need flex working? It is often assumed that people in the later stages of life make little use of this option as their responsibilities have diminished and their stress curves have flattened. Perhaps they are even comfortably retired and are in their rocking chairs watching Gardeners World? The reality is that people are toiling longer than their forebears, thus precipitating a generational change that impacts on how we view and facilitate employment.

Adding up the numbers                               

With the state pension spiralling upwards, the brutal truth is that many people have no choice but to soldier on. As was demonstrated with the furore that arose when the pension age for women was dramatically raised from 60 to 65, we cannot be sure what the future holds. Flex keeps the older generation in employment and particularly so when health issues rear their head. Agile work formats mean people can avoid the detrimental effects of pension poverty whilst also continuing to contributeto the state and more widely to society.

A Wealth of Experience

The older generation brings much to the workplace in terms of expertise and mentoring that should not be overlooked. By not offering flex working, all these advantages are lost as people step out of the economy taking so much of note and merit with them. Age is as much a protected characteristic under the Equality Act as gender, race or sexuality and should not be viewed as a justification for negatively predetermining talent or capability.

Offering flexibility to retain the talent of older employees is crucial. Workplaces can then become more diverse andinformed environments. We can all benefit from harnessing decades of valuable experience.”

Stephen Burke, Director of United for All Ages

Artificial age-based constructs help no-one. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, one day we will be judged not on our birth certificates but on the content of our character.

Childcare and Kinship Care

Government statistics indicate that 1 in 4 working families rely on grandparents for childcare and 63% of grandparents with grandchildren under 16 help out with childcare. This is not just about a spot of evening babysitting but rather such assistance plays a critical role in enabling parents to work. The childcare they provide is worth £7.3 billion a year as estimated by the charities Age UK and Grandparents Plus.

When older people can work flexibly, they support the younger generation to achieve their goals and potential. Since the major part of childcare is done by women, this has an impact on how women progress professionally and on issues such as narrowing the gender pay gap.

In complex cases, older family members may come forward in to look after children when the parents cannot, as an alternative to foster care. Flex helps to keep children at home, and it has been shown time and time again that staying with the birth family produces more successful outcomes.

It is not merely about having a better social upbringing. There is a domino effect for all of us. When, for example, grandparents step in to care instead of the state, they save the taxpayer money and resources. Flex working is a vital part of that process.”

Lucy Peake, CEO of the charity, Kinship

An Unstoppable Demographic

We are living longer and the proportion of the older generation relative to the population as a whole is increasing. Age is not something we can control and (barring a tragic early demise) it will happen to us regardless. We all have a strong vested interest it. Do we really want a system that sabotages our future selves? For harnessing experience, for better family and social relationships, for fairness – that is why flex working is required for the later ages and stages of our lives.

Categories
Business Flexible Working Future of work

How Do We Develop The New Normal Of Work?

Placing people and their performance at the
heart of organisations in our new world of work.

It won’t have escaped your notice that we are gearing up for a return to ‘normal’ or the ‘new normal’ as it has been termed by some. Many are questioning if they will be returning to the office. Will they be offered a hybrid and be able to remain working form home? However a recent Yougov survey commissioned by PUSH, 40% of people suspect employers want them to return to the office as soon as possible, because they think their employees achieve less when working from home.

But what is this new normal?

Will it be better or worse than before? Have organisations learned and adapted or have they simply focused on surviving with the intent to return to normal practice? How many of us have preferred working from home? Those who had to take the responsibility of education at home may have had a different experience to those who didn’t. It’s clear we’ve all had a wide variety of experiences.

However we all feel about the changes imposed on us we can’t ignore the fact that change drives innovation. Or at least it should.

However a recent Yougov survey commissioned by PUSH, suggests that 36% of the working population think they will work nearly 100% of the time from the office once the pandemic is over. Yet, 35% of people felt they achieved more when working from home. 

We at The Find Your Flex Group believe that one size doesn’t fit all. The discussion of flexibility and productivity is best done as a mature conversation between employer and employee.

Under what circumstances will they be most productive? What measure can we put in place to ensure support, cooperation and collaboration?

PUSH founder, Cate Murden, suggests it’s a new form of presenteeism: belief that even with the proof we are willing and able to work from home, employers still feel the physical presence of an employee in the workplace equates to better and more valuable deliverables.

According to the 3,037 surveyed, 32% believed those who return to the office when asked are more likely to get promoted. That rises to 42% in the under 35s!

What about mental health?

Murden believes that mental health and wellbeing are being put on the backburner as new figures suggest we feel pressured to return to the office in spite of the fact we achieve more at home.

Murden advises companies to instead use lockdown as a baseline for learning how we can protect the fallout from a sudden return to work: 

“The numbers that came back from this survey were shocking, but not surprising. If nothing else, it shows that we are still a long way from placing people at the heart of the organisation and not just bottom lines. Why, if we know we are doing better from home, are we feeling pressured to go back into the office?

Overlooking old behaviours and not learning from the past 12 months will be the downfall of many companies. Over the course of the pandemic alone we have supported some of the largest household names, including Whitbread, Toyota, Urban Outfitters and Rightmove, as they prepare for the wave of mental health issues that come with the new era of work. It is these companies, the ones that have used this time to adapt and grow, that will succeed.”

Perhaps, when we talk about a ‘new normal’ maybe we need to look beyond how a company functions. Maybe we need to get to the heart of any organisation, it’s values and its people.

About PUSH

PUSH specialises in corporate wellness, mental health, leadership and professional development. Working with clients to create tailored solutions to the challenges felt by their teams. Having seen 15% YoY growth during the pandemic PUSH decided to commission and publish the Human Element Report outlining our views on the return to work.

Read the full report here: The Human Element Report

For more information on how PUSH can support you during lockdown and beyond, visit www.pushmindbody.com or contact cate@pushmindandbody.com

Categories
Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Future of work Interviews And CV's

Job Description: The Future is Output-Based

The first step in recruitment is creating a job description. Yet while evolution has effected other aspects of recruitment, it has past right by job descriptions. We have had the same outdated format and content for decades, and it is massively understated the negative effect this has on candidates and employers alike. From ridiculous experience requirements to asking for redundant skills, businesses have gone unchallenged on this topic for long enough. The future is now and the future is output-based.

The “Ideal” Candidate does not Exist

Businesses need to manage their expectations when it comes to recruitment. All too often job descriptions contain a phrase that is counter productive to say the least. Many job descriptions contain the phrase “the ideal candidate will have:”. If you are a recruiter writing a job description, let me stop you right there, because this phrase tends to be followed by a long list of unrealistic expectations and you are setting up everyone involved (yourselves included) to fail. The majority of candidates will not apply based off of the fact they do not meet every single one of these needs. A small minority will lie and apply anyway just to take their chances.

The chances of you finding someone who ticks everyone of those 30 boxes are slim to none. The literal definition of the word “ideal” is satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect, existing only in their imagination and unlikely to become a reality. No human has achieved perfection since the beginning of our existence so how can it be expected from your applicants? The bottom line is your not going to get what your asking for and realistically a job description should not be about the candidate in the first place.

The Practice of Inclusivity Creates Exclusivity

Since society is making a genuine effort to be more diverse and inclusive across the board, business are trying to do the same with their workforce. When recruiting, employers now factor in; gender, BAME, LGBTQ+ and Neurodiversity as a plus. Within job descriptions, employers will even say they are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive working environment. However by actively including certain groups you are excluding others, there is something of a paradox there; you cannot be inclusive without being exclusive. This is called positive discrimination, which is a contradiction in terms in and of itself. It can be argued that by definition; discrimination in any form cannot be positive.

The whole point of diversity and inclusion is to create equality. If you are favouring someone because on their gender, sexuality or race then that is just a different brand of exclusivity. So a white, heterosexual male is automatically at a disadvantage regardless if they are just as capable of doing the job as other applicants who fall under the above categories? Is this not just more of the same issue in a different form? If every organisation does this then inclusivity is just an illusion that we are kidding ourselves with. The only way to be truly inclusive is to take inclusivity completely out of the equation and out of the job description.

Generic Job Descriptions don’t lead to Quality Candidates

Many business don’t put enough time and effort into the job descriptions. The format is so out-dated that businesses to tend to throw generic essential requirements in without thinking, or they overload it with paragraph after paragraph of information about the company. Yet they include very little about the roll itself. This is not appropriate, a full summary of the company comes later in the recruitment process not the beginning. And if the candidate really wants the job they will do their research on the company beforehand. A job description is a job description, not a company description and not a candidate description.

Another issue is the throwaway skills recruiters have in their job descriptions. What is a generic skill to an employer can be a deal breaker for an applicant. This issue particularly affects neurodiverse people. Neurodiverse people are some of the most talented people on the planet and yet so few are in employment today. They perceive things differently, so if they see a skill in a job description they do not have, they will take it no further. Though this does not just include neurodiverse people, many applicants move on when they see an essential skill that they do not have. Yet the role itself does not require the skills the job description asks for. A job where the person predominantly works alone does not require great interpersonal skills. But the at the end of the day, none of these should be included in a job description.

The Output-Based Job Description

So what is an output-based job description? Simple; you take the candidate: their skills, qualifications and experiences out of it. You also take the company out of it; no mission statements, passions, goals etc. A short two to three line introduction on what the company does is the most that should be in a job description. The rest of it is solely about the role itself and the output of the person within said role and what their day to day duties will be. It should be based off of what an existing or past employee within that role does. Or with a new role, the purpose of it and why it was created should be made abundantly clear. There should be no abbreviations of what skills these duties will require, if the description of said duties is clear and precise the candidate will know if they are cable or not.

Take all labels out of the equation no; ‘diversity & inclusion’ or ‘flexible working’. These labels, regardless of intent, are creating an unconscious bias that contradicts their meaning. The most inclusive way to form a job description is to not include any labels whatsoever, this is the mark of true inclusion. This will ensure that the right candidates apply for the role as opposed to candidates trying to be perfect for the role. This is the future of the job description. If we as a society hope to abolish all forms of discrimination and promote true equality within the workplace. It will give everyone the same chance, no one individual will have an advantage over another. This will of course have a domino effect on the entire recruitment process, but a positive one none the less. But one step at a time and its time to take that first step.

#OUTPUTChallenge

We at Find Your Flex challenge you and your business to take part in our #OUTPUTChallenge type form: https://findyourflex.typeform.com/to/I523nXuA. Be the pioneer businesses in creating a better Future of Work for candidates and businesses alike! Businesses will create their 3 best Output Job Descriptions and the winner will receive 100 business credits with us for a whole year and will also be the core focus of our press release on the ‘Future of Work’. The future is now, cement your part in it by taking the challenge!

Categories
Automation Digital Skills Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Future of work Technology Industry

The Growing Digital Skills Gap

Back in 2019 we discussed the digital skills gap, what it is and what needs to be done to address it. We still stand by the fact that flexible working opens doors to many more talented people able to plug this gap. But what else have we learned?

Since we discussed the matter much more research has been carried out by organisations such as The Tech Talent Charter, McKinsey, World Economic Forum, Deloitte and more – find a list of all the reports we think you’ll want to read at the end of this post.

So here are a few stats to get you warmed up

  • According to recent analysis from BCS: the Chartered Institute of IT, in the last quarter of 2020 women made up only 19% of the UK IT industry.
  • Flexible working is far more likely to be sought by women or other underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities (Timewise).
  • Further research by the Gender and Behavioural Insight Team found that job adverts offering flexible working attracted 30% more applicants and boosted applications from women by 16%.
  • In a survey of working women by the Tech Talent Charter, more than half of respondents were open to a career in tech, subject to being able to obtain the relevant knowledge and skills.
  • BAME IT professionals are less likely to be in positions of responsibility than those of white ethnicity – despite on the whole being better qualified, a new study has found (Chartered Institute for IT, 2020).
  • 91% of UK employers struggled to find workers with the right skills over the last year (Deloitte, BITC 2020).
  • The percentage of organisations scaling automations was found to have doubled in the last year, making concerns surrounding re-skilling even more prevalent (Deloitte, BITC 2020).
  • Only 1 in 7 workers in roles at high risk of automation received training in the last year.
  • 8 to 9 percent of 2030 labour demand will be in new types of occupations that have not existed before (McKinsey 2017).
  • Forty-three percent of businesses surveyed indicate that they are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration, 41% plan to expand their use of contractors for task specialised work, and 34% plan to expand their workforce due to technology integration (WEF, 2020).
  • It is estimated that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms (World Economic Forum, 2020).
  • On average, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require re-skilling of six months or less and 94% of business leaders report that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job, a sharp uptake from 65% in 2018 (World Economic Forum, 2020).

So what does this mean for the future of work?

To try and condense a multifactorial concept of ‘The Future Of Work’ into a short paragraph is difficult but here goes. The way we work has and will continue to change. Automation will see mass job loss but also create millions of jobs too. Eight to nine percent of labour demand in 2030 will be in roles that do not exist today. It is clear that education and re-skilling are key to navigating this huge change. Without the investment it needs we could see huge unemployment. Yet in parallel there will be large volumes of vacant roles requiring skills few people have learned.

So what next?

With epic amounts of data to support what the future of work looks like. We know that these issues need addressing now. Our current workforce, especially those who are more likely to suffer job loss as a result of automation need to be re-skilled in skills for the future. Ideally this needs to be done whilst employees are still in employment. Tackling the issue once these people have lost their jobs will be more difficult as the urgency to find paid employment may negate the desire to change careers or study. 

Our children are the workforce of the future and the national curriculum should reflect this. Research needs to be done on how we teach children the in demand skills of the future.

A report by Deloitte and BITC highlight the case for change saying

  • investment in reskilling by organisations appears to be lacking
  • employees most at risk of automation are not spending time reskilling.
  • and it is getting harder for organisations to hire the skills they need externally.

Who should we re-skill?

It comes as no surprise that the technology industry is lacking diversity on all levels. According to recent analysis from BCS: the Chartered Institute of IT, in the last quarter of 2020 women made up only 19% of the UK IT industry. Research commissioned by the Fawcett Society revealed that 1 in 3 working mothers lost work or hours due to childcare needs, that women were more likely than men to lose work or be burdened with childcare during the crisis, and that ethnic minority women were more likely to have concerns about losing their jobs.

You only need to look at a handful of reports over the last couple of years to see the lack of diversity.

The Tech Talent Charter surveyed working women to see what would persuade them to consider a career in tech. More than 50 percent of respondents were open to a career in tech, providing they could access the relevant knowledge and skills.

Then we need to consider those more likely to lose their jobs as a result of automation. Those in industries such as retail, manufacturing and hospitality (McKinsey, 2020).

When should we re-skill?

Time is of the essence. With Covid potentially accelerating the automation curve we need to act now. We need to avoid the costs of job loss and a prolonged, expensive recruitment process. Not to mention trying to recruit people with skills that very few have trained to do. 

We need to invest in reskilling our workforce now. It makes good business sense. Make the most of your employees now. Take the employees whose roles may be at risk from automation and ask them if they would be interested in retraining. Models for retraining and redeployment need to start now.

graphic showing option a to re-skill and redeploy workers versus redundancies and costly recruitment

How are flexible working, diversity and inclusion and the digital skills gap linked?

Our own research has shown the diversity in our own audience seeking flexible working. This is backed by Timewise who say “flexible working is far more likely to be sought by women or other underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities.”. But until flexible working is more widely accepted and valued by organisations these people, talented and brimming with potential will be unable to access the careers they desire.

Research by the Gender and Behavioural Insight Team found that job adverts offering flexible working attracted 30% more applicants and boosted applications from women by 16%. Whilst this is great news that highlights the value of flexible working, much is still to be done to ensure that flexibility offerings are not just a tick box exercise. Something our team at Find Your Flex takes very seriously.

Open up a discussion on how, where and when is the best way to do a job and you will attract more talented and diverse people into roles. The technology industry needs to be as diverse as the people it serves. There is a whole group of diverse people out there eager for a career, they just require the flexibility to access it. This untapped group of talented people could be the part of the answer to the digital skills gap.

How will Find Your Flex address the digital skills gap?

We have exciting plans for 2021 – 2022 and have something up our sleeves that we think could not only address the issue of re-skilling but also provide a green solution too. We can’t say too much now but watch this space. We’ve also just joined The Tech Talent Charter as one of their signatories. Read more about the great work they are doing here.

A list of interesting reading on the future of work, diversity in technology and responsible automation