Flexibility and Business Performance
How Organisations and their leaders embrace flexibility
23 March 2010
Philip Morton, Managing Partner, Morton Philips
What will we be talking about today?
● The dramatic changes to the places of work, work practices and employee expectations.
● How an organisation and its leaders can embrace flexibility AND still deliver outstanding
● What does the future look like for business leaders?
Topics covered
People don't want to work less.
They want to work differently
Setting the scene.....
What's happened in the workforce and how has the work place changed in the last 10
Australia has enjoyed
● Almost a decade and a half of uninterrupted
economic growth and historically strong labour
market conditions.
● Unemployment is at its lowest in nearly 30 years
● An ageing population which will impact on labour
force growth
● New set of expectations about work life situations
● National skill shortages – over the next 5 years the
estimated impact of population is an equivalent
shortfall to 195,000
● A booming 24/7 global economy
For the first time in Australian History there will
soon be fewer people entering the workforce than
leaving it i.e. a dearth of human capital
Some facts....
Good news....
According to findings in the CFO Perceptions of Work Life Flexibility Study by Cali Williams Yost
the CEO and cofounder of Work + Life + Fit Inc who did a random survey on US’s top CFOs
● A majority of CFOs recognized a broad range of potential bottom line impacts that flexibility
could achieve, including recruitment and retention; improved employee productivity;
differentiation from competitors; minimizing environmental impact and reducing health care
Bad news....
● Only 13 out of the 100 had a formal approach to flexibility in place and had a senior
leadership team that perceived it to be a strategy for managing work, resources and talent.
● I.e. only 13% of the CFOs worked for organizations with the leadership understanding and
organizational infrastructure to translate that awareness into action for bottom line results.
● The remaining 87 CFOs, or 87%, had no formal approach to flexibility in place and/or had a
leadership team that saw flexibility as an informal “perk.” Not a powerful recipe for seeing
and executing flexibility as a strategic lever.
● “Estimate 85% of all workforce growth will be supplied by people aged 45+ by 2012 up from
32% in 1992. this is a phenomenal shift in just 20 years demonstrating how fast the
population is ageing”
● Labour shortages were still 5 years away, of the 475 firms interviewed 66% of them said they
were experiencing difficulties filling jobs
● 73% of office workers believe that they would be more productive if they worked from home
(online poll ISP Lumison, London)
● 65% claim to work longer hours at home
Employee generations
What are the different generations?
● Originally thought of as having a 20year age gap but social change in educational
opportunities, delayed marriage, rate of technological change etc has led to a blending at
the cusp of the generations
● Born pre 1946
● They experienced economic upheaval during childhood.
● Discipline and self-sacrifice were cornerstones of their out-look as they came of age.
● Common goals like overcoming the Great Depression and building suburban America,
and also by the necessity to defeat common enemies - Germany and Japan, then the
Soviet Union and China.
Baby boomers
● Born 1946-1964
● not a homogenous grouping, consist of a number of subsets: span an age range from
● Large number now retiring or have already retired from 50 onwards. Many could live to
be 90 or more.
● Raised in a time of phenomenal national wealth, they expanded the economy more
than any other generation.
● They challenge hierarchies, communicate and share responsibilities freely
Employee generations
Generation X
● Born 1965-1980
● Accept diversity; they are skeptical, pragmatic and practical, self-reliant, independent and
● They reject authoritarianism and control; they were latchkey children and separate friends from
● They like a casual, friendly work environment, seek challenge, involvement and flexible learning
● Work-life balance and family priorities are very important to Gen Xers.
Generation Y (Millennial Generation or Generation Next or Net Generation)
● Born1981-1999
● celebrate diversity; they are optimistic, inventive and individualistic; they rewrite the rules;
● they enjoy a pleasurable lifestyle; they don't see the relevance of most institutions;
● they are masters of technology and social media;
● were nurtured by their parents; see friends as family; like a collaborative supportive work
environment and interactive work relationships;
● have high demands and expectations; want to work for companies that are socially responsible
and they want a balanced life.
What will Generation “Z” be like??
What is meant by flexibility?
Some definitions you are likely
to hear
● Flexitime
● Hoteling
● Job sharing
● Part time employment
● Phased retirement
● Phased return from leave
● Telecommuting/ telework
● Virtual work
How as an organisation can you keep up and
still deliver outstanding performance?
Develop a proactive strategy
Include● Attract and retain the new generation
and the previous generations
● Assess policies and practices
● Adequate supervision and controls
● Differential performance reviews
● Job redesign
● Coaching and Counselling
Seven tips to maximising the effectiveness
of your strategy:
1 Make the link to business goals
2 Review the current state
3 Be flexible with flexibility
4 Enlist managers
5 Communicate, communicate, communicate!
6 Think business results
7 Sell up!
What do you need to consider with your strategy?
To successfully implement flexible work practice you need a systematic culture
change approach
● Start with Work/Life Audit to ascertain what practices are working
● Develop strategies to overcome the challenges include creating
● Develop an organisation specific business case
● Engage managers and employees in the process
● Address management issues
● Train managers in how to manage flexible work practices
● Evaluate the success of the program
● Begin with a pilot program with a team of people committed to making workplace flexibility a success
Examples of what other companies are doing...
As generation Y plays a greater part in the workforce
strategies need to be in place to establish the work/life
balance of the company
For example
● Revolving door policy – keep the door open to younger staff
who leave to experience other companies and life situations
● Provide introductions for overseas work and facilitate them,
keeping the relationship going until they return (Malleson
Stephens Jacques a leading Australian law firm)
● Double parental leave entitlements (rates for return to work for
ANZ have gone up from 78 to 93% within the last few years)
● Guaranteed part time work for staff over 55 – allowing staff to
have a downshift, a career extension as a right – this resulted in
a rise of average retirement from 55 in 2001 to 58 in 2005
Advantages and disadvantages of flexible working practices to
● Better health
● Cost – disadvantage or
● Less stress
● Working at home with children?
● A sense of control after making
a proactive decision
● Isolation
● Better quality of life
● Lack of supervision
● Coping better with non-work
● Lower salary if you work fewer
● Retaining earning capability
● Need for a dedicated work
● Less commuting/cheaper
transport costs
● More effective time
● Choice of working patterns
● Good for children
● Good for equality
● Difficulty in judging
● Need to be self disciplined and
highly organised
● Possible obstacle to promotion
● A sense that you have been
forced into it by circumstances
not of your choosing
Advantages and disadvantages of flexible working practices to
● Increased retention
● Difficulty of managing home
workers and monitoring
● Higher engagement and
● Enhanced recruiting and
competitive position
● Reputation as an “employer of
● Improved scheduling and
coverage across time zones
and continents
● Reduction of the company’s
carbon footprint
● Deterioration in employees
skills and work quality
● Initial costs of training and
providing suitable equipment
including adaptations to meet
health and safety standards
● Maintaining staff development
and upgrading skills
● Risk of information security
● Increased telecommunication
● Risk of communication
problems and a sense of
isolation amongst home
● Can be harder to maintain team
● Working from home is
unsuitable for some types of
What does the future look like?
Future of working practices – what are companies doing now?
Many companies still do not embrace the concept of flexible working and according to a survey by ISP
Lumison, London who surveyed 1,013 people earlier this year, the break down of obstacles to working
from home were the following:
A note about potential security
Businesses may be putting themselves at
risk by allowing staff to work at home
without proper security
● Problem is that most businesses have
neglected security in pursuit of better
business continuity
● They have neglected to think about the
security implications of having data stored in
more locations than ever before
Five tips for businesses on implementing remote working technology
Here are 5 tips for businesses on remote working technology
Cost-benefit analysis
Staff consultation
Remote working security policy
Flexible working policy
What is the government doing to help?
● Provision of additional child-care places for parents of school-age children, including
Outside School Hours Care
● Targeted and improved industry and workplace engagement strategies
● Strategies to increase employment of workers with a disability
● Training for employers to manage an ageing workforce effectively
● Additional training and employment preparation services for job seekers
10 ways Generation Y will change
the workplace
1. More Productive Meetings
2. Shorten the traditional working day
3. Bring back administrative assistants
4. Redefine retirement
5. Find real mentors
6. Restore respect to the HR department
7. Promote based on emotional
8. Continue to value what our parents
had to offer
9. Enjoy higher starting salaries
10. Reinvent the performance review
Roadblocks to success
If its such a win win situation why aren't more
employers embracing flexibility? Several roadblocks
keep employers from making the connection.
● Biggest is long standing work place norms
● Many cultures are still rooted in the industrial age and
focus on hours and ‘face to face’ time
● Rather than hours worked we use hours worked
specifically hours in the office to measure performance
● Manager attitudes – most managers have primary if
not sole responsibility for making flex work a reality
● Nearly two thirds of managers have had no formal
training on flexibility for managers
● Senior leaders – most do not see the connection
between flexibility and quantifiable business results
and see the programs as “soft”
● Poor execution – employees need to understand what
is offered and have a clear expectation of their role
and responsibilities
As a result, it is very difficult to change the above
and does nothing to encourage flexible work practice
If you don't embrace the change what will
As labour forces in Australia and globally shrink,
employers will need to be innovative about attracting the
shrinking supply of available talent – in short if you don't
do anything there is a very real danger that your company
will face possible extinction
● Gone are the days of treating everyone the same
● Employees have different needs, expectations and
● A one size fits all approach does not work in today's
changing work landscape
If you don't embrace these concepts you will lose the
competitive advantage of employing a more aligned,
engaged and productive workforce
● The workforce of the future will be more diverse
it will consist of more older workers, more
parents, and more people wanting to work parttime so new strategies will be needed
● Organisations interested in creating a flexible
work environment have a variety of options
available to them.
● It is really a matter of tailoring the specific type(s)
of flexibility to employee needs, the constraints
of specific jobs, and the organisation’s culture
and structure.
● Work flexibility practices can relate to other types
of psychologically healthy workplace programs
and practices.
● Organisational decision makers themselves
have a lot of flexibility in how they choose to
utilise flexible work arrangements.
Questions and answers
Level 9, Western End
MTAA Super Building
55 Currie Street
Adelaide SA 5000
T +61 8 8210 8510
F +61 8 8210 8500
E [email protected]
W www.mortonphilips.com.au

Flexibility and Business Performance