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How to adapt to the new world of work

The workplace is changing rapidly. David Jones, Senior Managing Director of specialised recruitment firm Robert Half, looks at how to deal with changes and create a more flexible way of working.

The workplace is changing rapidly. We have reached a point where the combination of generations and demographics has resulted in often diverging expectations of work and what workers want to achieve. To create a more inclusive environment suitable for an increasingly diverse range of employees, organisations need to be prepared and embrace a different way of working.

Forward-looking businesses are redesigning the overall working environment and process to suit a modern workforce – one that facilitates a more collaborative and flexible way of working that appeals to different demographics and caters for everyone.

The speed of technology and information has further facilitated the need and use of independent contractors and temporary workers, offering businesses a more flexible approach to how they manage key project initiatives and workload fluctuations.

The key is to balance the advantages of a more flexible workforce with the need for creating a workplace that is collaborative, motivated and ultimately happy.

A more flexible way of working

As organisations evolve and grow, there is likely to be an increase in the inclusion of interim professionals who can support the business when workloads are higher or when specific skills are required to navigate times of change. It also reflects the proliferation of independent contractors that are seeking a more flexible way of working.

For organisations to successfully embrace contract workers, it’s important to have the right measures in place – including trusted recruitment partners – to check and validate their skills. Another challenge facing organisations is how to balance the advantages of a more flexible workforce with ensuring the happiness of both permanent and interim staff.

To keep the company’s mission and values at the forefront, it is crucial to find ways of continuing to manage the performance and engagement of interim employees throughout their tenure. This could be through giving employees the freedom and flexibility to experiment with new ideas, empowering staff to contribute their ideas in meetings or introducing new social events to encourage cohesion.

Pay to play

As the nature of work changes, remuneration and bonuses are also expected to evolve to appeal to a modern workforce. For many businesses this may include readdressing the balance between basic salaries and bonuses as well as offering benefits that more greatly appeal to one’s own individual preferences – including healthy-living schemes, remote working and charitable donations or time off for volunteerism.

It’s important to remember that for a modern workforce, money is only one side of the remuneration coin. While it remains a key driver, top candidates receiving multiple top job offers are also keen on re-addressing the work-life balance that has been lost in an ‘always-on’, digital-first society.

As such, remuneration packages that include a flexible work schedule, sabbaticals, emergency child or elderly care, relocation or housing assistance and financial planning, go a long way to enticing today’s talent.

Managing change

The modern workplace requires organisations to adapt and rethink how they manage this new workforce. For organisations to support their employees in their career progression and preferred ways of working, there is a need to create a flexible environment that advocates cross-working between levels and departments.

It also involves finding new ways to provide leadership and accountability at different levels of the organisation to create an open and consistent culture that recognises the diversity of the roles yet includes all.

If this can be achieved, then businesses will be able to help an increasing number of people to work in the way that best suits them. It will enable the modern workforce to combine the positive aspects of flexible working, such as freedom, flexibility and variety, with the security of career development, access to benefits and exciting opportunities.

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