Make flexible working patterns work for you

With the end of ‘a job for life’, the ticking of the demographic ‘time bomb’, and the ever-increasing pace of new technology, employers are having to consider a wide range of new working patterns that take account of this rapidly changing work climate.

 

Types of flexible working

There are many well-established alternatives to full-time working:

  • Part-time working, which can vary greatly in hours worked and pattern of hours.
  • Flexitime, which allows staff to choose which hours to work (within pre-set limits), as long as they fulfil the required hours within a set period.
  • Staggered hours, whereby, for instance, some staff come in at 8am and leave at 4pm, whereas others start and leave an hour or two later.
  • Job sharing, where two staff do the job of one full-time staff member by sharing the work in an agreed fashion.
  • Shift working, which enables 24 hour coverage.
  • Unpaid leave, e.g. taking a sabbatical for a period of up to a year after an agreed length of service, or taking a career break whilst children are young.
  • Working from home, which is much easier in these days of tele-working and computer links.
  • Downshifting, where a member of staff agrees to less responsibility for less pay. This can be very useful in the run-up to retirement, and often goes hand in hand with choosing to go part-time.

 The benefits (and barriers)

In the past, an employer’s initial reaction to flexible working patterns was likely to be a downright refusal to consider these, on the grounds that it would cost money, be difficult to administer and make work, and that no serious career player would want to work anything other than full-time anyway. Nowadays such an attitude would be seen as short-sighted and counterproductive:

  • Staff want a better life-work balance at all ages. Those employers who can accommodate this by allowing flexible working patterns will be rewarded with more loyal staff who choose to stay and are absent less often. The company will have less problems with recruitment. Happier and less stressed employees are also more productive, and this in turn leads to more profits.
  • We live in a society where consumers are increasingly expecting their needs to be met 24 hours a day. To satisfy this is impossible without shift working, job sharing, part-time workers etc. Furthermore, machinery can be used to its fullest extent in a workplace where flexibility is built in.
  • Half the hours does not equate to half the effort (or half the commitment). Employees with the ability to manage their work-life balance better are more committed, not less. A company that exhibits this commitment to employees’ needs will get and retain talented people who will be prepared to commit their efforts in return.
  • An employer who can offer truly flexible working patterns is an employer of choice who will attract the best and most diverse workforce.

Despite these advantages there are still some barriers to be overcome – although these are steadily falling:

  • Attitudes must also continue to change. The culture of deciding that older people are unemployable will soon be illegal, but we need the perception of managers and colleagues to move with the times as well. There is still a macho culture in many workplaces, which says that anyone taking career breaks, working part-time, or not putting in very long hours, is not serious about their career. This is short-sighted and wrong but must still be overcome.

How are organisations reacting?

The majority of employers fall into one of three distinct categories:

  1. The ‘Proactive Group’. These are leaders in creativity and innovative thinking about how best to engage a quality workforce. In employee surveys they are invariably within the top 100 companies to work for.
  2. The ‘Reactive Group’. They know that flexible working is a good idea but tend to react to market trends and pick up initiatives from others. They often provide flexible working through fear of the consequences if they don’t.
  3. The ‘Change Resistant Group’. These are often small companies with less capacity (as they see it) for flexibility. They are likely to perceive that it only applies to their female, non-technical staff. They resist the idea because it looks risky and, at face value, is difficult to set up and administer.

These three groups may benefit considerably from the independent experience and expertise available through an external consultant. For example:

  • Group 1 may benefit from an objective forum for creating and analysing ideas, providing facilitation, quality assurance and risk analysis – and ideas the organisation may not otherwise think of.
  • Group 2 may need practical advice to help with increasing their knowledge and developing the new ideas needed to integrate flexible working into their company culture and ultimately move them into Group1.
  • Group 3 may need support to increase their knowledge, work through the risk factors, and in particular to remove their fear of change.

When considering the introduction of new patterns of working, it’s important to get it right. Early pioneers of home working, for example, did not appreciate the dangers of isolation and lack of support of their staff at home, and found that things often did not work out, with home workers sometimes ending up more stressed than in their original workplace. There are, however, ways of increasing the likelihood that flexible working will meet its objectives for both the employer and their staff, which is why it makes sense to get expert advice before introducing new work patterns – rather than to help deal with the consequences if this is not handled correctly.

Need a Motivational Speaker or Awards Host for your Next Conference or Boardroom briefing?  Work Stress Expert, Carole Spiers will deliver a charismatic, high-impact keynote presentation, ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’, based on her new book, at your next conference.  Contact us info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk or call + 44 (0) 20 8954 1593

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Learn How to Deal with Stress:  Carole’s book, Show Stress Who’s Boss! shows you how to deal with stress, manage your stress & anxiety and overcome symptoms of stress.  You’ll find tools and stress management techniques to make your life stress-free.  Inside this book you’ll find 4 proven steps to relieve your stress symptoms. http://amzn.to/2sARfmd

Also available in Kindle version.

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Great Success on National Stress Awareness Day

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Author of Show Stress Who’s Boss

We are now at the end of the 2016 National Stress Awareness Day campaign where we had a great turnout from the International Stress Management Association [UK] regions and also from around the world.

We are still gathering in all the data together but it was difficult to keep track of all the media coverage including OK magazine; the Director journal; the Daily Telegraph; Radio BBC Scotland, Dilse radio and 5 Live –  to name just a few that reported on NSAD activities.

During a 30 day period, the NSAD twitter hashtag had over 180,000 tweets and retweets and the hashtag was trending for some hours on Twitter on the Day. Our Facebook page doubled its LIKES and our LinkedIn page increased its reach.

                        "Well done team NSAD."

With countless events being organised and delivered by members and non-members alike, 2016 was certainly a year to remember. Continue reading

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The Impact of Losing concentration

work stress, keynote speaker, how to deal with stress, anxiety, stress symptoms, signs and symptoms of stress, stress free, Show Stress Who's Boss!, carole spiers, stress management, stress & anxiety, symptoms of stress, stress management techniques, stress-free, stress symptoms, de stress, wellbeing, mental health

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‘I keep losing focus’, complains Noreen. ‘I wish I could concentrate better’, says Abdul.  Do you hear yourself sometimes saying this?   There are so many things to think about that you just cannot seem to be able to concentrate properly, any more.

Concentration is the ability to focus upon one thing at a time.  This is not necessarily an easy skill to develop and retain as life, for all of us, has so many disruptions.

Multitasking:  Some of us pride ourselves on being able to do more than one thing at a time but the chances are that instead of doing one task really well, we actually manage to do a number of tasks not so well. The reason being that trying to do too much contemporaneously usually leads to poor performance or mediocre outcomes.

Distraction and Boredom:  You cannot concentrate properly until you stop yourself from being distracted!  Now this might seem very obvious but we can fail to take the requisite action to either remove the distraction from us or to remove ourselves away from the distraction. Continue reading

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Are you going through a Mid-life Crisis?

 

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Last week, it was reported in the international media that Google’s Main Board Finance Director, 52 year old, CFO Patrick Pichette had announced that he will be giving up his multi-million dollar job in California to spend more time with his family and maybe to go back-packing around the world.

So was this a mid-life-crisis action taken on the spur of the moment or a carefully considered decision made after examining all the priorities, in conjunction with his immediate family and friends?  Was it, possibly, a moment when he saw his world before his eyes and thought of his ‘bucket list’ with all those things not yet experienced, or completed, and then thought that he might be going to run out of time with all those hopes and dreams unfulfilled?

When does it start?

Midlife crisis can happen when someone suddenly thinks they have reached a point halfway through their life and for many, it can come as a complete surprise as they had thought that life was just beginning. They can start to develop anxieties that appear to indicate that everything is going backwards – or at least not moving forwards – both in their career and personal life, and can experience mood-swings or possibly bouts of self-doubt and even depression.

This crisis usually occurs, if at all, between the ages of 35 and 50, and can sometimes last for maybe five or even ten years. The term mid-life crisis was first coined in 1965 where early analysis suggested that it could happen anywhere between the ages of 40 and 60, but it is now shown to start much earlier.

Let us look at some of the signs that could indicate whether or not you could be heading for, or currently experiencing, your own mid-life crisis. Continue reading

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Taking Gratitude into 2015

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Time flies by so fast that it is difficult to realise that we are about to say ‘Goodbye!’ to 2014 and ‘Hello!’ to the New Year.  You probably have many things to be thankful for over the last twelve months but, like the rest of us, you have also had your challenges.

Maybe your ‘life script’ did not turn out as you would have liked – but then life often throws up unexpected challenges to be overcome, such as health issues or relationship problems.  That is the order of our lives and with a new year ahead of us, it is worth remembering to be grateful for what we actually do have – our family, our friends, our work and all those special moments in our lives.

Of course, it is very easy to feel sorry for ourselves when things go wrong.  Maybe you didn’t get that promotion you wanted or you lost a personal relationship.  Your health may have deteriorated and such issues are often tough calls to handle particularly if they come together.

But that doesn’t really help us to move on.  In order to do that, we need to take full responsibility for what is in, and what is out, of our control.  There is no point in wasting time, energy or even money on that over which you have no control.  However, there is a point in accepting a particular situation as it stands and seeing how you can amend your life script to take account of it.  Your life-script may not be within your own control, but the attitude that you exhibit in your approach to situations that you encounter, is within your determination and can positively influence outcomes in your favour. Continue reading

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Being a Loner in the Workplace

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No two people are the same and that is why, within your work-teams, there will be those with whom you get on easily and then those with whom it is often a challenge to communicate.  That is just a fact of life.

Let us look at Johan who manages a team of talented marketing professionals who need to collaborate, daily, on different projects. One of his team is Amelia who is a highly proficient, technically- skilled team-member but who likes to work alone and just get on with the job in hand.  But, she is not a good communicator and in many ways is a loner.  That is her style and personality which may not be a problem unless she is part of a team in which inter-communication is usually essential. We already know that any chain is only as strong as its weakest link and, in this case, Amelia is the link that weakens the chain because she often fails to attend meetings on time and is inefficient in communicating information to her team members, resulting in unacceptable delays and missed deadlines.

This leaves, Johan, the team manager, in a difficult situation.  With Amelia, he has a very talented, intelligent individual who is highly productive when they work alone but has very little interest in working with others.  He values her input but is acutely aware that her inability to communicate, damages the effectiveness of the team and frequently causes friction within the team.

So what can Johan do to keep Amelia in post yet at the same time, ensure that she is an integral part of the team? Continue reading

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Help to de stress me! My email is taking over my life!

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‘As soon as I clear my inbox, a new batch arrives – consequently I spend my time reacting to every new message but not being proactive’.

Does this sound familiar?  Our lives are circumscribed around the Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Android, or any device where one can get online: consequently we spend our waking hours reading, replying, copying and deleting.  Is any real work ever done and is this plethora of email really necessary?

However, email is here to stay: so here are my 5 top tips to help you manage it.

  1. Bin it!

Utilise your inbox for actions that you need to take: then get rid of the rest. Old emails just take up space.

  1. Get sorted!

After actioning your emails, put them in named folders for quick access. Tidy email folders are a lot easier to handle when you open your in-box. Continue reading

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Holidays without Stress

Unrealistic demands and deadlines, work overloads, poor communication, out-of-date equipment and/or staff shortages lead to pressure that often turns into stress.  However, it’s not usually connected with holidays – or is it?

'Show Stress Who's Boss!' provides tools and strategies that will show you how to deawl with stress.

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In reality, holidays and your everyday work are interconnected and depending whether your holiday break is good, or bad, will impact on how well you are able to manage pressure at your work, i.e. to be able to prevent normally stimulating pressure from turning into harmful stress that can cause mental and physical damage.  In this age of short deadlines and long hours, you need to compensate by taking frequent breaks as an essential re-charging tactic, and when you do so, it’s really important to switch-off completely and not be tempted to check your email every minute!  I certainly think that emailing has become an addiction instead of a communication tool. However, the fact remains that your mind needs that break as well as your body. Continue reading

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Using your time effectively if unemployed

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Jane is a client of mine but is currently between jobs i.e. temporarily unemployed.   Her friends tell her that she is lucky to have time on her hands – however, she does not see it that way.  She wakes up in the morning with no reason to get out of bed.    Her husband, Gerry, gets ready to go to work, as usual, by 7.15 whilst she lies in bed thinking about what she can do to fill her day.

This is a time of great challenge for Jane.  The very word ‘unemployed’ fills her with anxiety.  She understands that she was made redundant because of re-organisation within the firm and that it was not a reflection upon her work.  Her boss was very understanding and said he would give her a good reference but they just had to ‘let her go’.

So, from one moment of being Jane Reese, HR Assistant, she became Jane Reese – unemployed!  She didn’t think it would matter to her.  She would catch up on emails, rewrite her CV, go for interviews and get another job.  It all seemed rather simple, initially.  It was Summer time so she would also use the period to recharge her batteries.  But then Summer came to an end.  She had psyched herself up for countless job interviews but nothing had materialised.  She thought she would certainly have found a new position by then, but she hadn’t.  Jane tried hard to keep positive but this was becoming harder as she received one refusal after another.  So what to do?  She knew she had to take some action to keep herself active, positive, alert and confident.

So, she came to seek my advice and we looked at various options for her: Continue reading

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Stressed Out and Firefighting – again!

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As a manager, do you regard yourself as acting reactively or proactively, the majority of the time?  Do you pride yourself on your ‘firefighting skills’ or your planning expertise?

Reactive management refers to situations for which you cannot, (or fail to), plan and which then require you to enter into reactive mode in order to deal with them.  This usually means that situations arise that you failed to anticipate and which then need ‘firefighting’ to resolve the issues that have arisen.  Of course, you may well have become extremely good at doing this.  However, have you have ever thought how efficient you really are at such times?  You may have convinced yourself that you work better under stress.  You may need the ‘adrenaline rush’ to get you moving and you love working late into the early hours of the morning in order to meet a deadline. However, have you considered the knock-on effect to other people around you who will be also be affected? Continue reading

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