Categories
Automation Careers

The Impact of Automation on Career Development

This month is National Career Development month. Naturally, we at Find Your Flex are invested in the nation’s career development at every level.

This year’s theme is centred on how Artificial Intelligence (A.I) and Automation is effecting the Future of Work. And how the career development of the nation needs to evolve when taking this into account.

Automation and how it is impacting the workforce is a development that Find Your Flex has been watching closely. We have done our part to keep people informed of these developments and how they will be impacted by these. Now we wish to join the National Career Development Association in raising awareness on this subject and how existing career development practices need to be prepared for the inevitable.

Automation is the Future

We’ve discussed the topic of automation and how it effects certain industries such as retail and hospitality and how it effects national and global security.

But the fact is; automation and A.I will effect everything in the future. We are only baring witness to the beginning; video technology has been introduced to most sports. We speak to chat bots on websites far more than having real people deal with our enquiries (often to our frustration). And does anyone even order at the til in McDonald’s anymore?

This will only expand and increase as time goes on and even more efficient technology will be developed to carry out tasks that people are required to do. Many existing manual job roles will become obsolete, as many already have.

Ignorance won’t be Bliss

There’s no point trying to resist this inevitable change or delude our individual selves that “it won’t effect me and my prospects” because it will, it’s happening as we speak. And if we choose to ignore this and do nothing, what will happen? Have you seen the Disney Pixar film WALL-E? If not look down below to see what happened to all the people of an automated society who did nothing and just let tech take over!

(Image sourced from psycritic.com)

The scary thing is, this is only partially a joke. Is this really an impossible stretch from where we are now? Staring at screens all day, communicating without any physical interaction and having food delivered to us with just the click of a button.

All we’re really missing is the floating chairs and trust me, there’s probably some tech wizard out there right now trying to change that. So what can we do to avoid this?

Develop New Career Development

The answer is pretty simple, we do what humans always do when faced with change, we adapt and evolve. And with this particular obstacle, the answer lies in what we call career development, which encompasses everything we do to grow professionally.

In education, automation and A.I have to become a bigger part of the national curriculum. In the sense that we need to look at how individual subjects are effected by today’s technology and make sure the next generation are fully equipped to understand and utilize it. This needs to start as early as possible and be a vital part of their ongoing education.

“I must prepare my two- and three-year-old sons to race with the robots, and not against them. Our kids are going to meet an economy with far fewer entry-level positions and will have to clamber up a receding ladder. That means being in schools equipped to exceed the averages, not rising to meet them.” – Kristen Millares Young, The Guardian

It doesn’t stop at schools though, this goes for colleges, universities, apprenticeships, traineeships, returner programmes, company progression schemes etc.

Every. Single. Form. Of Career Development MUST impart knowledge and skills that will enable people to gain employment in an automated world.

If someone is looking to enter the retail industry, they need to be taught skills on how to monitor, analyse and utilize technologies within that industry. The same goes for roles in hospitality, health and social care, construction etc. With every new form of automation there will be new opportunities for the workforce linked to that technology. Whether it is maintaining said technology or a role that uses the data that technology provides.

The Fears of Career Development in the Digital Age

When talking about a future that is going to be dominated by automated technologies there is an aspect that needs to be addressed.

For a lot of people, this future is a terrifying one. As it leaves them feeling uncertain about their place in it.

The reason for this is that some of us find technology more difficult to use than others. This is especially true for some people who grew up without this level of technology in their lives.

When working in a certain way for a lengthy period and to then be told everything is going to change and you need to learn all these new technological skills in order to remain employed. That would scare pretty much anyone.

But it isn’t just older generations that this can seem daunting for. There are plenty of children, teenagers and young adults, that find tech more difficult to get their heads round.

The issue is when we’re talking about career development evolving in preparation for the “digital age”. Talking about, data, automation, artificial intelligence etc. Someone who isn’t necessarily tech minded can hear these phrases and assume that you need to be a computer genius to be suited for a role in technology.

But you don’t.

Career Developing for Automation with Find Your Flex

Having the mindset of needing to be a computer genius to be suitable for ANY role involving technology, is like saying someone needs to be a fully trained architect to build a sand castle.

Technology like everything else, has varying levels of simplicity. And its important to keep this in mind when applying for jobs or if you want to progress in your career.

There are going to be entry-level roles involving technology that you will likely find easy once given simple but clear instructions on how to use it.

At Find Your Flex, we have been doing our part to alleviate these worries and are working with businesses who are providing traineeships, apprenticeships, returner programmes and skills courses. All of these are designed with automation and the digital age in mind.

Each of these forms of career development are designed for people from all walks of life, to be able to begin or continue working in an automated environment. And we will continue to do this so that no one has to worry about automation affecting the career prospects.

Visit our Apprenticeship Hub, Returner Hub and Online Courses to find out more!

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Output Recruitment

The 3 Ts of Productivity – Task, Time and the One that Everyone Forgets About

We generate endless to-do lists for our work and personal lives.

Tasks are logged.

Calendars ensure we do not embarrassingly double book. The latest apps are available with features to mark milestones and keep us on track.

So why are we not always as efficient as we could be? Because tasks and time are not the only part of the productivity mix.

The missing ingredient

We overlook the element that smashes our procrastination, slays our negative thoughts and rejuvenates our weariness. Louis Pasteur, whom we have to thank for immunizations and pasteurized milk, once stated,

Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.

Tenacity is the incredible ability to carry on in the face of challenges, the force that brings us our hard-won triumphs. If the road seems endless and we are running on empty, it is the stubbornness to persist that’s the real driver of success. But the problem with tenacity is that we do not have it all of the time. Levels fluctuate and sometimes erratically.

What eating radishes teaches us

There is no limitless well of tenacity in the same way that there is no infinite source of energy (we all need to sleep).

In the now infamous cookie test, Roy Baumeister placed two groups of volunteers in a room with a batch of tempting, delicious-smelling cookies and some radishes. One group could eat the yummy cookies whilst the other could only munch on the tangy and comparatively less satisfying veg. After a while, the volunteers were given complex tests. The group that had to resist the cookies gave up on problems more easily.

The take-away from this experiment, asserts Baumeister, is that the radish participants used up a part of their store of mental energy in resisting the sweet treats. Their willpower or tenacity was depleted.

A state of mind and a muscle

Tenacity may be seen not solely a state of mind to be summoned at will but a muscle that, when over-used, gets tired and drained. This is a factor that impacts on the productivity of one’s work and personal life. So, what changes can be made?

Top 5 techniques to turbocharge your tenacity

1. Goal focus – It’s inevitable that we have to face up to energy zapping tasks. You may need to chase invoices – again. Despondency sets in. But think instead that this is just one more step to your objective of having as successful business. When things can get dreary, overarching goals are motivators. Seeing the bigger picture will help you get through the smaller, arduous tasks.

2. What is this costing me? – you may put off tasks or do them slowly or less effectively. Ask yourself what this approach is costing you. Energy? Time loss? An unhappy state of mind? Is this the way you want things to be? In order to avoid these negativities, a tenacity boost can perk you up. Sticks are as much motivators as carrots.

3. Flexibility – flexible working has myriad advantages and one of these is being able to fit in your work around your mood. You can move tasks around when you are best able to do them or when you have the most energy to go full pelt. Reschedule for potential.

4. Learn from the past – Think back to all those times when you felt you couldn’t do something but did it anyway. What were the triggers that kept you going? Consider the qualities that you demonstrated at that point and heed them. Those characteristics have not disappeared, even though it feels that way sometimes, and they are still a part of you. Think about your qualities.

5. Quick fixes – There are various ways to encourage tenacity to take root even if you feel overwhelmed. Practising mindfulness soothes a jittering mind. Relaxation techniques ease tension out of the body and they only take a few minutes. A short but brisk cardio-pumping walk cracks stagnation. Devise your own tenacity playlist and turn up the volume on music that is pitch perfect for you.

Does it really work in practice?

From the whole Find Your Flex team, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!”. We operate completely flexibly and are encouraged to engage when suits us best. We adopt an output based attitude rather than concentrating on set hours and rigid employment structures. This is an empowering approach for us all to reach our targets but in our own personal and most effective way. We have tried it and we can say that it works.

Your mental power tool is tenacity

Task and time remain the building blocks for effective diary management. You absolutely need to define what needs to be done and how long it will take – especially if you are charging yourself and your skills out to make a profit. Nonetheless it is possible to alter your mindset to give it a boost and replenish your reserves.

To enhance your own “Output” and to get more out of your day, use ways to tap into your tenacity.

It is an oft forgotten innate power tool – One that you can use to drill deep for success.

Categories
Business Careers Future of work Interviews And CV's Recruitment

Salaries In Job Descriptions: Candidates want Employers to be Upfront

Find Your Flex is a platform with a purpose. And that purpose is to build a better future of work for all. Today we are discussing salaries in job descriptions!

Recently we conducted a poll on various social media platforms on the inclusion of stated salaries in job descriptions. The response was overwhelming.

We asked the question: “If a Salary isn’t stated on a Job Description does it put you off?

The post went viral, reaching over 100,000 views and over 4,100 people voted. 84% of people who voted said; yes they would be put off by a job description that does not state a salary.

Many of the voters supplied their reasons why and we noticed a particular pattern forming.

No Time for Time Wasters

It usually puts me off entirely. If the job sounds like a particularly good fit and I enter a discussion with a recruiter about it, the salary range is the first question I’ll ask. If the recruiter won’t give me the salary range at the start, I’ll politely end the call there as I don’t want to waste my time.

The most prominent reason given for why people would be put off applying, was that they didn’t want to waste time.

Supplementary to that was that most people apply for jobs that will continue to facilitate their lifestyle needs.

Applicants don’t want to waste their time applying. Only to find out further down the line that the salary will not sufficiently meet their needs.

How can you make a decision about viability of changing a role/ company if you can’t equate whether you could continue to afford to live your existence?

Applicants also see this as a lack of respect in valuing their time. Or even shows ignorance about the amount of time and effort candidates put into their job applications.

If a candidate really wants a role they can spend hours catering their CV and covering letter specifically to that role and company.

Why should you spend the time and energy polishing a resume, applying, stressing, interviewing, waiting…just to find the salary range is something you would have never applied for in the first place?

Salaries in job descriptions – a lack of transparency results in a lack of trust

Good candidates who pull out are less likely to apply to the organisation again and more likely to share their experience with their connections.

No company should ever underestimate the power of word of mouth.

It only takes one applicant to have a bad experience during the recruitment process for this to snowball. Social Networking and Social Media is a huge part of our daily lives.

All it takes is one post by an applicant with the right social connections to spread the word about how poor an employer’s recruitment process is.

I somehow always get the impression that these companies are looking for the highest skilled employee who ticks all the right boxes whom they can then insult by offering as little as possible for their services.

This all contributes to a company’s brand reputation. When it is clear that one aspect of the business has a negative reputation, it starts a domino effect in the eyes of the public. It’s clear to see their train of thought:

If a company has poor recruitment, they must be a poor employer. If they’re a poor employer, the service can’t be great. If the service isn’t great I should take my custom elsewhere.

Even in its simplest form, if you’re not being open about yourselves as an employer, why should candidates trust you?

Believe you are good and fair employer? Then literally put your money/salaries where your mouth is so candidates will know it!

If you are proud of what you pay your people you will have no problem, putting this out.

Don’t play games with people’s livelihoods

What puts me off is when the recruiter asks what salary you expect. I just reply, asking what the company is offering. You can’t beat around the bush… it gets you nowhere and does no one any favours in the long run … Be up front and don’t treat it like a game. Life is too short!!

Even if salaries are negotiable, a range between the minimum and maximum should be advertised to show applicants where they stand.

And once those negotiations begin, both parties need to be forthcoming about what their expectations are to meet a certain salary.

This is important as salaries can also help an applicant determine their level of seniority.

The ludicrous requirements for even the most junior roles make it difficult to determine the seniority, in a way that salary absolutely defines.

In negotiating anything, both sides need to be aware of the stakes. A candidate needs to know what it is they are negotiating for. It is better to state a salary in the job description than make applicants struggle to negotiate in the dark. This is just another form of playing games.

And its important that the employer is not considered a dictator, as this once again impacts their reputation. If the salary is negotiable, both parties must have something to negotiate with.

“Negotiating power lies with the employer if a salary isn’t listed. Whilst you can negotiate during the final stage of interviews, you should at least see salary expectations and that your potential employer has done some research into the role before you apply.

Just ticking a recruitment box?

It makes me feel like the recruiter is just trying to collect CVs to stick in a database and tick a box.”

This may not be just about salary. A lack of effort and details in a job description will be a sure sign to any applicant that the employer is not overly interested in the quality of the applicant.

But it is clear that to some applicants, an unstated salary is a red flag that employers do not care about the application and are just ticking a HR box.

Thus sending a message that employers don’t care enough to put in the research of the role they are recruiting for. And what the standard salary is for such a role.

If you don’t advertise a salary then for me it says to a potential applicant is these guys are potentially looking to do this on the cheap or have no idea about the marketplace and so can’t even pitch a salary for the role.”

It can also show a poor HR department or recruiter. As top quality candidates who know their value will be looking out for a salary. These will be less likely to apply for the role.

Where an abundance of perhaps under-qualified candidates will be in their place resulting in hours of sifting through applications.

“It usually means HR and hiring managers spending unnecessary time sifting through more CV’s and interviewing candidates that if they discover the salary is too low will pull out.”

Salaries in job descriptions: The candidates have spoken. Now employers must listen

The response was loud and clear. The general theme that employers have a responsibility to state salaries in their job descriptions cannot be ignored.

If employers continue to omit such crucial information from the job description they not only risk losing potentially amazing recruits, but could be doing substantial damage to their brand reputation.

To conclude, its not difficult to state a salary in job description, even if its a range between the minimum and the maximum, at least then everyone knows where they stand. The only one that stands to miss out on not stating a salary is the employer.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work Industry Flexers

Career Flexibility

When it comes to getting what you want from your career, having an attitude of flexibility can help you to take advantage of all the possibilities.

To have Career Flexibility and achieve your goals, you’ll want to set your boundaries. What are the areas where you can’t or won’t compromise? Salary? Location? Hours? Could you be tempted to travel further for more money or to work more hours for a really good role? If you can say ‘nothing would tempt me…’ then you know that you’ve drawn your line in the sand!

How could you achieve your aims by working differently? Often our attitudes to employment are quite rigid. We are limited by what we have done and influenced by our families and friends.

What would life look like beyond PAYE? How do you feel about self-employment? Freelancing? Consultancy? Employing others? If you have concerns, how could you address them? Could you combine self-employment with a part-time or seasonal PAYE role for security? If you worry about finding work, could you work as a freelancer or consultant for someone else?

Could you work two or more different jobs (sometimes known as a portfolio career)? This could broaden your horizons or allow you to experiment safely in a new career direction knowing that the old one is still bringing in money.

Could you job share your previous role or a new one? This could open up a wealth of more senior and interesting roles that aren’t advertised as part time.

Could you develop a hobby or interest into a side hustle? How could that become your main source of income?

In what areas, are you an ‘expert’? Not the world expert, but knowledgeable and experienced in a particular area. Is there something you know how to do that you could teach or train others to do?

Would you retrain to upskill or update your career? Would you retrain in order to change careers completely?

Whatever the job market or economic situation, Career Flexibility is a mindset for personal growth and new opportunities.

Career Coaching and Training to Relaunch Careers

Re-establishing your career after a parental career break or redundancy can be a daunting prospect. You may not be able to return to the job you did before, or your priorities may have changed and you would like to do something different. Whether your career gap is months or years, we are here to help.

The four things we cover:

1. Career Clarity – work out what to do next and how to get there.

2. CV-Writing – refresh or start your CV from scratch ready to market your expertise. We can also help you create a LinkedIn profile for the opportunities you want to attract.

3. Job Search – use your time effectively and efficiently to find the right job for you.

4. Interview Skills – regain confidence using our three step approach for interview success.

We do this through standalone e-learning and blended coaching programmes.

View our career programmes http://bit.ly/careercoachingprogrammes

Book a free career consultation https://bit.ly/careerconsultcp

Get your free guide to discover the best sites for flexible jobs https://bit.ly/flexjobsites

Join our Facebook Group for career break mums: https://www.facebook.com/groups/careerbreakmumsbycoachingpartners

Categories
Flexible Working Future of work Students and Graduates

Flexible Working: A Youth-Centred Approach to the Future

Oh to be in the flush of youth – light-hearted, happy-go-lucky, single (or at least on Tindr). With so many advantages, it is often assumed that flexible working is not much of a need or concern for the fresh-faced who are still in their salad days. Yet, those just starting out in life face a myriad of issues for which agile work formats can provide a solution.

Student Costs

Tuition fees are high, upwards of £9,000 and repayable with interest. Added to the cost of living away from home, many students are saddled with debt that they will spend perhaps decades paying off. Even the maintenance living grants are often not sufficient to cover the basics. “For many, wages from part-time work are the only way students can make ends meet,” states Sir Peter Lampl of The Sutton Trust.

Juggling intellectually strenuous courses with part-time jobs is not an easy balance to pull off. But without flexible work, many people simply could not afford a tertiary or further education. When we leave people unable to improve themselves and their prospects, both our society and our economy suffer. Flex is key to this.

Flexible Internships

To get work experience, you need work experience. It’s the circular system that holds many people back. Internships are difficult to get in the first place, as many seem to come through word-of-mouth, family connections or privileged social networks. There does not seem to be enough internships to go around.

A more radical idea would be to introduce job-share internships, with each person doing 2.5 days per week. Doubtless this would require careful management, especially when it comes to handovers. But it is a possible option that would mean that double the number of people would gain at least some experience and something to put on their CVs to move their careers forward. Businesses would, in turn, get the benefit of having more people to assess for specific roles.

Neurodiversity

Youth seems to be the most care-free time of our life but the statistics on the incidence of mental health do not relate merely to those who are older. But making small change can have a significant impact. For example, a person with depression (which can often be worse in the morning) who is allowed to come into work at 10am and work later in the day can get a job and can keep that job. Employed, contributing, paying tax – this is what young people can have if reasonable adjustments are made to their particular situation.

If you want to find out more about what neurodiverse people can do if businesses provide the right working conditions and flexible working opportunities, check out our piece that expands on this subject.

Carer Responsibilities

Many young people take care of elderly relatives at home. By assuming such duties, they save the taxpayer huge amounts of money, thus shouldering up an already creaking and under-resourced care system. But this can only be fair if the carer has some opportunity to work flexibly around these responsibilities.

The consequences of removing flexible working from the equation are two-fold. First, whilst taking on such caring tasks is humane, worthwhile and honourable, it leaves the carer with little else to put on their CV. This in turn limits the kinds of roles young carers can apply for. Secondly, carers may become trapped in a system of living on carer-related benefits because of their limited skills. Young people have dreams – and should be given an opportunity to accomplish them. Flexible working allows the possibility both for caring and for young people to fulfill their aspirations and potential.

Young people are our future world. So, it’s really never too early to enter flexible working.

Categories
A Day In The Life Of... Careers Flexible Working Future of work Meet the Team

Meet Kristina: Flexible Working Life of a Team Administrator

Administration is an intricate part of every industry, Administrators keep the wheels turning. Yet the role itself kind of has the stigma of being a 9 to 5 office job and perhaps that stigma is real. But we at Find Your Flex are aiming to ensure that in future no role has this stigma. And administration is an industry that needs to incorporate Flexible Working into all of its roles. There can be no greater example of this than our own Team Administrator Kristina Mich. Who has consented to share with us her unique journey to Flexible Working and why she now has a passion to bring it to others in her industry as you will see in the video below!

Journey to being a Flexible Working Mum

Kristina’s journey to Flexible Working starts in a very relatable way and one of the main reasons why Find Your Flex got started. Kristina became a Mum and naturally this became her top priority. However, Kristina found herself missing the woman she was before Motherhood; a passionate driven career woman who is passionate about helping teams reach their goals.

Though unfortunately, early on Kristina faced the harsh reality that many businesses are more concerned about the time you dedicate to them. Rather than working with you to see what hours are best for you and how you can be most productive. Kristina grew tired of fruitless job interviews with employers who did not respect her family needs. When she came across Find Your Flex, she was impressed by what she saw and it seemed to be the perfect company for her to be a part of. She took a chance and emailed our CEO Cheney Hamilton and it became clear things happen for a reason.

Flexible Working = Flourishing Talent

Kristina received a response and an interview from Cheney. And of course Kristina showcased every value and ideal that Find Your Flex was built upon. Within no time at all she was part of a team and environment that Kristina dived head first into and quickly proved herself to be a talented and dedicated individual! She quickly put her skills to good use and dedicated herself to picking everything up extremely quickly. She wasted no time in proving her value by getting to know each member of the team and being supportive and encouraging. As well as providing some unique resources only she could provide (some of these are showcased in the video below).

Kristina found the work-life balance she had been searching for. Feeling fulfilled in a role that allowed her to work from home without the need to commute via a train journey that could take hours. She is able to be the excellent Mother she is, as well as being the equally excellent Team Administrator for Find Your Flex. Having the ability to lead a full family life while having a flourishing professional life she can excel and grow in. But staying true to her innate personality traits, Kristina shows that she doesn’t want to be the only one to have the chance at having a Flexible Working role.

Bringing Flexible Working to every Industry

Like the rest of the Find Your Flex team, Kristina’s personal career journey lit a fire within her. After seeing firsthand the lack of adaptability of other employers and that the grass is greener on the other side of the Flexible Working hill. Kristina is eager as part of the Find Your Flex team to bring Flexible Working to people. Not only people in her own situation, but to everyone!

Kristina puts it very well in the video below, why should businesses incorporate Flexible Working into all their roles? “It just makes sense.” as she points out; work and life are intertwined. If your employees are happy they will work harder and add bring more value to your company. It is a lot simpler than some businesses make it out to be. And Kristina is a great example of how Flexible Working does work!

In Kristina’s own words:

Thank You Kristina for sharing your insights with us!

If you are inspired by Kristina’s experience, and want to start your own journey towards Flexible Working. You can start by checking out all our live job roles here.

Kristina is an invaluable part of our team. Want to learn about the rest of our team too? And why we are all invested and passionate about making Flexible Working available for everyone? If so you can meet all us here!

Thank you again Kristina for being a force that will one day make Flexible Working available for everyone!

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
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