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March - 2011 - issue > Management

Will Flexibility Hurt the Challenging Nature in Work?

ST Team
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
ST Team
A recent survey done on 10,000 companies across the globe by Regus, a workplace solutions provider, found that globally 36 percent of companies expect to hire working mothers in 2011. India, where 43 percent of companies plan to add staff overall, counters this trend with fully 56 percent of firms declaring they plan to hire more working mothers. Many businesses are already using flexible work arrangement to integrate these assets, providing a family friendly and at the same time more productive work environment simply by allowing employees to work alternative hours or closer to home. But many a times, people are seen wrestling with a puzzling question - Will flexibility hurt the challenging nature in work?

According to another survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, “flex-time is the most popular alternative work schedule offered by the responding companies, with two-thirds of the companies offering such a benefit.” In case of employees, most of them enjoy having flexible work schedules. Many employers have discovered that providing flexible work schedules helps increase productivity, and attract and retain employees. But how far the productivity could be retained?

In most cases we have seen that employees opt for flexibility at the cost of their professional edge. Sometimes they are offered job which doesn’t match their qualification, and in such cases, they decide to sacrifice flexibility for the sake of a stimulating job. But that doesn’t always necessary.

A surprising survey result was that few managers in high-stress jobs take advantage of flex jobs, while less than one-third of interested men and only one-half of interested women have ever used flex. Across all age groups, the number of individuals who have used or currently use flex is significantly low. Among various reasons, the most interesting one was that flex options signal a career dead end. Why? Well, somewhere or the other there is a feeling in people’s mind that flexibility does hurt the challenging nature in work, which is very important to learn and grow in career.

Here, two suggestions from the global management consulting firm Bain & Company for effective flex job implementation can be key ones. Firstly, the companies must tailor flexible programs to meet specific employee needs. As individual employees do look for many different things, one size does not necessarily fit all. They need to segment employees by their varying needs and then develop a meaningful set of flex work options from which employees can pick and choose.

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