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Sarah Kirk


Global Diversity & Inclusion Director

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Dynamic working: Flexibility for the next generation of worker


Flexible working is a phrase that is thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? In 2014, the government released its official definition, stating that: “Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, e.g. having flexible start and finish times, or working from home.” It also stipulated that all employees – not just parents and carers – have a legal right to request flexible working of their employer.

Despite this guidance, and while a large number of businesses have now implemented flexible working policies, it remains something of a taboo subject in the UK.

Whether it’s fear of being seen as ‘slacking’ when working remotely or from home, or simply confusion over who flexible working policies are for, there is still a lot of work to be done to democratise flexi-working policies. 

For the latest generation to enter the workplace this needs to happen fast. If UK companies want to attract and retain ‘millennial’ talent and maximise the productivity of not only them but their entire workforce, they have to get flexibility right.

Introducing Generation FL-X

Millennials and Generation Zers – those aged 18-27 – are often talked about with mixed sentiment; on the one hand acknowledged as being a group of digitally savvy, institution-shunning self-starters, and on the other, as having increasingly high demands and expectations of almost everything.

Where flexible working is concerned, this up-and-coming group of young professionals are fast establishing themselves as members of a new generation of worker: Generation FL-X.  

‘FL-Xers’ have experienced the workplace differently to older generations – and have very different (and often much higher) expectations of their employer as a result.

PageGroup’s latest trends research revealed that more than half (59%) of Generation FL-X expect flexible working to be offered by all employers, to all employees, as standard – rather than being seen as a benefit or perk for a select few. Almost 8 in 10 (79%) also felt that the ability to work flexibly will be a fairly or very important consideration for them by 2020.

Dynamic working is designed to be all-inclusive and open to everyone – otherwise it wouldn’t be dynamic!

Such expectations are resulting in millennials actively choosing businesses that already have flexible working policies in place, over those that don’t. The choices this age group are making in terms of what is important to them from an employer are certainly different to when I entered the recruitment business over 20 years.

Pair this with reports predicting that by 2020 millennial workers will make up 50% of the workforce, and the need for businesses to implement new flexi-policies to attract and retain the best next-generation talent becomes crucial.

Performance, not presenteeism

At PageGroup, we know that people of all ages have commitments outside of work; we know people are craving a work-life blend to better align what they do in and out of the office. For that reason, we work by – and encourage other businesses to adopt – a flexible working model that supports a high performance, high trust culture: dynamic working.

Based on trust and judged on output, dynamic working makes the important shift from ‘presenteeism’ to performance. Essentially, if people are delivering what’s expected of them, then businesses should do all they can to deliver employees the most suitable working pattern.

There’s no one size fits all approach, so businesses need to be prepared to cater for everyone.

This means the best performers are not necessarily those who spend the most hours behind a desk, and it’s certainly not a model reserved only for parents or those in senior roles (as 6 in 10 millennials currently believe is the case).

Instead dynamic working is designed to be all-inclusive and open to everyone – otherwise it wouldn’t be dynamic! Regardless of when an employee joined a firm, how old they are, what discipline they work within or their level of seniority, dynamic working should cover all.

No one size fits all for flexibility

Personally speaking, I have three small children and they will always be my priority, so flexibility at work is incredibly important. Dynamic working allows me to stay as loyal to my family at home as it does to my profession – by working flexible hours I am able to meet their needs without impacting the quality of my work life or career.

For flexible working to be truly successful, businesses need to recognise that for some employees – especially millennials – managing personal commitments may be as important to them as arranging childcare is to others like me.

There’s no one size fits all approach, so businesses need to be prepared to cater for everyone.

For employers looking to keep pace with global trends and meet the demands of an ever-changing workforce, flexi-time and ‘flexi-place’ policies could be the secret to gaining and retaining talent for the future.

After all, if employees feel empowered working for a company who is willing to be flexible, they are likely to be more engaged, more productive and more inclined to see a long-term future with the company.

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Sarah Kirk

Global Diversity & Inclusion Director

Read more from Sarah Kirk