Are You Training for Radical Flexibility?

Are you training for radical flexibility? 50% of employees will resign over flexibility. Train to retain

50% of employees will resign over flexibility … How can L&D train to retain?

Last year, restrictions and lockdowns forced many organisations to rethink not only how they operate, but where they operate from. With many closing their offices permanently as a result.

Perhaps oddly, this has been a good thing – with research indicating greater productivity gains by saved commuting times, and fewer distractions.

The new flexible world of work has changed the landscape and mindset of workers and employers alike – symbolised by the success of WFH (work-from-home), which has become something of a household acronym.

Now, new research from Ernst & Young Global Ltd. has revealed that almost half of Australian and New Zealand workers are likely to resign from their current position if they can’t work when they want.

And with growing optimism in the economy and job markets, underpinned by a shortage of workers and skilled migration pools – employees are increasingly empowered to vote with their feet to find the work flexibility that suits their needs and lifestyle.

It’s my career and I’ll work when I want to

It’s not surprising to find out that workers want flexibility. But dig a bit deeper, and we find out there is much more to it than that – and it’s shaking up the HR and L&D departments globally.

Given a choice between flexibility of location and hours, 52% preferred flexibility with when they work, compared with 40% who wanted it for where they work.

This not-so-subtle nuance is key for organisations who are trying to get it right, both for productivity and successful pivoting of their operations during strange times – but also for retaining and attracting talent.

Shifting to Radical Flexibility: The Rise of The Individual

Previously, Employee Experience (EX) was a two-dimensional way of looking at humans.

Now we care about the Human Experience (HX) and support our people to have more fulfilling lives, which of course, helps them bring a more productive version of themselves to their work.

Some progressive organisations have now adopted what is known as ‘radical flexibility’ – giving employees control over where, when and how much they work.

While it has its detractors, what has stuck during Covid and for the foreseeable future, is adoption of flexibility for workers in all forms: Individualism writ large.

If flexibility has shown to boost productivity, perhaps pushing the envelope as far as possible could just work for both organisations and employees.

According to Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey of 5,000 employees, where employees work a standard 40 hours per week in the office, only 36% of employees were high performers.

When organisations made the shift to one of radical flexibility, 55% of employees were high performers.

“Offering employees more choices over when, where and how many hours they work, is not only better for employees, but also better for employers who end up with more high performing employees as a result,” says Brian Kropp, Chief of Research, at Gartner HR.

What does this mean for L&D?

Josh Bersin has consistently advocated for learning in the flow of work. And never before have the tenets of this been more important, than in a work environment where radical flexibility is the norm.

When organisations made the shift to one of radical flexibility, 55% of employees were high performers.

Bersin said, “Think about learning as much more than a training problem. It’s really part of your entire employee experience.”

“What we are going through right now is a transition from the more traditional learning models to the self directed world of Netflix-like learning, where we get to browse around and find whatever we want to learn,” says Bersin.

Going forward, L&D professionals and HR leaders will need to work on building capability, and help their workforce accelerate their learning in the flow of work.

Companies Becoming Design Centres for Employee Experience

The problem right now, is not a lack of jobs, but a lack of skilled workers. US based labour market analytics firm, Emsi recently described this phenomenon as “The Sansdemic” – a long range, demographic drought brought on by amongst other things, a drop in the fertility rate globally and baby boomers retiring at record rates.

So, what are organisations going to do?

“Offering employees more choices over when, where and how many hours they work, is not only better for employees, but also better for employers who end up with  more high performing employees as a result,” says Brian Kropp, Chief of Research, at Gartner HR.

According to Bersin, companies must look internally at their talent – and get very serious about internal mobility.

This requires a massive focus on retention, employee experience and employee engagement.

He cites several companies, such as Bank of America – who are tapping into new sources of talent by creating talent, not just acquiring talent – achieved through development and creating a flexible work environment which is sensitive to workers’ needs.

Talent in the Driver’s Seat Means Technology in the Hot Seat

There is no question that the emergence of flexible work and the emphasis on employee reskilling have impacted learning technology offerings and product strategies.

The shift in architecture from ‘systems engagement’ to ‘systems of design’ and the importance of giving HR teams ‘creator tools’ to design better experiences for workers.

This is shooting the LXP to the top of the list, along with having a suite of the best authoring and integrated tools that can create simulated and immersive experiences.

The team at ITC Learning know that it’s hard to fly solo with some of these leading edge technologies, so we regularly schedule ‘discovery sessions’ with clients one-on-one, to explore your goals and requirements into FY22.

Schedule a chat with us at clientservices@itclearning.com.au

 

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