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

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

‘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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Using your time effectively if unemployed

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

4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

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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Business Relationships

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Is there someone in your office with whom you find it challenging to deal? Is your life at work being harmed by a difficult relationship? That difficulty could be with a colleague, a business partner, a manager, director, customer or supplier. You may be spending time at night worrying about it; thinking about it constantly and/or discussing it with colleagues, husband or wife.

It is often said that we cannot choose our family and therefore need to learn how to manage our relationships with them – and the same applies to those at work. If a particular individual is not to our personal liking – for any reason – then because we do not have the luxury of walking away, we need to find a basis upon which to communicate. We all have a job to do and we need to be able to communicate well with everyone in our team. That still applies even if you are a sole practitioner, as you will need to communicate politely with clients/ customers, who you may not like, for otherwise you will have no business! Continue reading

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Stressed? Are you addicted to technology?

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The Essential Guide to Managing Stress

Do you find yourself waking up at 3 am to check your email or Facebook account? Is your addiction to the internet having a negative effect on your relationships? Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when not on-line?

If so, then you are probably experiencing technology addiction. This occurs when people cross an invisible boundary and their texting, emailing, Twitter and Facebook usage becomes unhealthy.

Last week, I was interested to read a research study carried out by the Henley School of Business which showed that it was not the young or unemployed who had time on their hands who were technology addicted but, contrary to what I would have expected, it was in fact those who worked hardest who were most at risk. Working excessively is the ‘strongest predictor’ of technology addiction. Dr Cristina Quinones-Garcia of Northampton Business School who co-wrote the study said ‘Internet supports all areas of human interaction. However, the omnipresence of this phenomenon could have a double-edged sword impact on our lives’.

It would seem that individuals who use technology to enable them to continue working beyond office hours or to receive social media notifications 24/7 tend to be highly successful in their jobs but are at risk of the effects of technology overload. Continue reading

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Making New Year Resolutions Stick

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

4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

Well, we are already nearly two weeks into the year and I wonder how your new year resolutions are going.  Well, it is great to make these resolutions and we do that really well.  However, ensuring they become a part of our everyday lives is just a little more difficult.

So, today I thought I would tackle one of the most difficult ones to keep – eating healthily.  You can give yourself all the excuses in the world for eating badly – you are busy, you haven’t had time to eat properly, you have had a really challenging day either in the office or with the children.  We human beings are great at making excuses for not doing something and we can also be really creative with these reasons as well!

However, the one thing for sure that 2014 will bring most of us is that little word, ‘stress’, so let us look at way of how you can reduce it naturally. Continue reading

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Insomniac? Find out how to get a good night’s sleep

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

Discover 4 Easy Ways to Beat Stress Today!

As December and the holiday period can be a time of over-eating and disturbed sleep due to too much food and too little exercise, I thought it might be useful to look at some of the causes of sleeplessness or insomnia.  Some of my clients complain they either cannot fall asleep when they go to bed or they wake up at around 3 a.m. with their mind full of problems and things to do from home or work that seem insurmountable, during the night,  and which prevent them from going back to sleep again.

Consequently, at 6.30am when they need to get up, they feel unrefreshed and tired and certainly not ready for their day ahead.

If this happens to you, then maybe try some of these ways to help you through the night:

  • Don’t eat heavy meals late at night.  Think about what you are going to eat before you eat it.  People who eat small meals at least four hours before bedtime are more likely to sleep well right through the night.  A balanced diet consisting of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain carbohydrates, oily fish, nuts, seeds, lean meat and plenty of water can help promote good sleep.  Of course, if you drink coffee in the evening, you are probably going to have to visit the bathroom and as caffeine is a strong stimulant, you may take a long time to get to sleep after your Americano or expresso! It has been said that for every cup of coffee after 8pm in the evening, you can lose one hour’s sleep! Continue reading

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Not Another Meeting!

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

4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

The other day I was sent an email with five attachments and it was suggested that these were all read prior to attending a forthcoming meeting.

So I arrived at the meeting, on time, and sat and waited for 15 minutes which made me annoyed.  The meeting eventually started but no agenda had been distributed.  The attachments I had been sent were only touched upon so were not really necessary.  And so I sat there thinking ‘what was the purpose of this meeting?’

Sometimes I wonder if people who arrange meetings fully appreciate the responsibility entailed?  I am certainly not saying that some meetings are not invaluable and if organised and delivered well, are essential to develop projects, initiatives, clarify thinking, to brainstorm and to encourage networking.  However, when using other people’s time, it is necessary to ensure that there is a valid reason.

Often, I arrive at a meeting that starts late, and I begin to lose focus and interest. And when they do eventually commence, the AV equipment has not been tested beforehand, the micrphone doesn’t work and it becomes more of a ‘fire-fighting activity with loads of excuses rather than a business meeting, Continue reading

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The Importance of Treating People with Dignity and Respect

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The Essential Guide to Managing Stress

We are aware that all employees should be treated with dignity and respect and that bullying and harassment is detrimental to both morale and team dynamics and should never be tolerated.  However, if you are being bullied, it is not always easy to know what action to take.  All employers need to demonstrate a duty of care to everyone who works for them but, sadly, this is not always the case.

Being Bullied

Emilee is a 35 year old, London accountant who enjoys her work. She appears to be a self-confident, efficient and outgoing person who you would not think could be easily bullied.    However, the opposite is the case.  She told me that her boss, John, only speaks to her in order to criticize her work and, otherwise, completely ignores her from one day to the next.  Never is there any word about what she has actually achieved.  To date, she has done her best to ignore this attitude because good jobs such as hers are not easy to come by and she is committed to her work. However, a few weeks ago, Emilee could finally take no more intimidation and she arrived at my consultancy room, in tears. Continue reading

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