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Managing a Flexible Work Force

Managing a Flexible Work Force

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Managing a Flexible Work Force

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  1. Managing a Flexible Work Force New options for how people work

  2. Objectives for Class • Identify shifts in assumptions about employees and employee relations • Discuss types of flexibility and their implications for organizations, managers, and employees • Investigate the trade-offs this flexibility entails • Explore some strategic design, political, and cultural barriers to change

  3. Adaptability—but with uncertainty and disruption Flexible size and type of work force • Downsizing • Use of temporary workers, subcontractors, consultants, and contingent workers for an elastic labor force • Uncertainty, job insecurity • Less opportunity for employees to develop firm-specific skills • And effects on, e.g., quality, teams, networks

  4. Adaptability—but with uncertainty and disruption Flexible boundaries of the firm • Outsourcing to other firms for a variety of inputs and services • Spinning off entire functions or departments • The “virtual” organization - multiple pieces reassembled as tasks change

  5. Flexible Time, Space, and Division of Labor • Flextime - staggered start & end times • Compressed work week • Regular part-time employment • Job sharing • Phased and partial retirement • Voluntary reduced work time programs • Expanded leave options • Work at home plans

  6. Flexible Skills, Assignments, and Rewards • Multitasking • Cross-training and multiskilling • Job rotation • Redefinition of jobs into task clusters • Pay-for-knowledge, pay-for-skills, pay-for-contribution

  7. Flexible, Life-long Careers • Non-linear view of careers and advancement • Periods of greater/lesser focus on work--coordinated with periods of greater/lesser focus on family, personal life, and civic causes • Not just innovating on the margins of the current workplace • Rethinking the nature of work

  8. Strategic Design Perspective • Changes in how work is divided and careers are shaped • Different types of flexibility • Interrelationships among employment practices

  9. Flexible work arrangements may help a firm… • Retain talented employees • Meet future staffing needs • Build employee appreciation and commitment • Prevent burnout • Identify better performance criteria • Enhance contribution and productivity

  10. Advance planning is important for… • Establishing procedures for performance reviews and flexible arrangements • Being clear about criteria and timing for promotions • Being explicit about building upon or departing from precedent

  11. Political Perspective • Negotiating new arrangements • Perceptions of fairness will vary—and can affect whether employees go along or resist new work practices • Unintended consequences to manage during a change process • Consider where practices are choices, not mandates dictated by market or technologies

  12. Employees’ perceptions of fairness will vary • Know the diverse constituencies involved • Elicit and understand their different perceptions of what’s fair

  13. Employees’ perceptions of fairness will vary • Recognize that new policies that appear beneficial to all employees can make some employees feel like they’ve won • Other employees, unexpectedly and unintentionally, may feel like they’ve lost

  14. Employees’ perceptions of fairness will vary • Be aware of how a new policy may unintentionally conflict with other policies, goals, or norms, rather than optimizing singular programs

  15. Cultural Perspective • Different images of work and what it means to be an employee • Social contract in employment relationships

  16. New images of work emerging… • Both hopeful and disconcerting • Decode the new vocabulary of flexibility • Which aspects are meaningful to employees • Which aspects are likely to evoke cynicism • “Any job is just a bullet on your resume”

  17. Think about... • Coherence - Think in terms of whole systems, rather than piecemeal optimization, and be aware of unintentional contradictions • Legitimacy - Keep in mind perceptions of equity and fairness on the part of multiple stakeholders