The modern working environment is very different to what it was even just a few years ago. And as workplace and employee trends change rapidly - it can be hard to keep pace.
These days, the working environment contains a much more blended workforce - with managers and employers generally much more responsive to problems - and employees less tied down to physical locations.
Working arrangements have also become much more flexible, with most organisations and employees embracing these changes positively.
The current system of flexible working in Australia is a good example, with the majority of organisations offering equitable wages and good working conditions.
The rise in flexible working does offer some definite advantages, including:
• An increased ability to hold on to valuable staff
• Having a wider talent pool
• Reduced absenteeism
• Increased commitment from employees, and
• Improved productivity.
Flexible working conditions have also enabled some businesses to extend their opening hours, due to the wider availability of the workforce.
Remote working (or working from home) has also provided employees with a better work/life balance - giving people more time to spend with their families or undertake hobbies.
Childcare costs are reduced, and for those working from home for part of the week, there are the benefits of reduced fuel and motoring costs.
Finally, being able to attend family commitments, such as your child’s first school concert or ballet class, for example, and still being able to finish your work, leaves staff feeling much more fulfilled; in both their personal and professional lives. Another advantage of greater flexibility is that people can work when they feel most productive, which means they are also more likely to produce better quality work.
The result is a happier workforce; and staff who are less stressed, burned out or frustrated.
Of course, there are a few downsides to more flexible working arrangements.
For example, some organisations can run the risk of communication breakdown, as employees have trouble getting in touch with their colleagues, or lose touch with ongoing meetings or projects.There may also be some businesses that experience resistance from staff who generally feel more productive working in a typical office setting, with traditional office hours.
However, these organisations are most definitely in the minority these days, and it is now widely accepted that the positives of flexible working far outweigh the negatives in most cases.
Another area of huge importance to employees is having the right wages and good working conditions.
Indeed, recent research shows that fair compensation and good working conditions are two of the most important areas to all age groups, genders and ethnicities almost unanimously around the world. The other two are healthcare and the aforementioned workplace flexibility. Also, as the demand for higher qualified workers increases, the rise in new technological developments is also changing the game.
In some cases, new technology is even encouraging more professionals to give up full-time employment in favour of more contract-based opportunities which offer greater control over their time, growth, education, and job security.
Recent changes in wage conditions are also having a very real effect on the workforce; with an employee’s base salary continuing to be the number one driver of attraction and retention for Australian employees.
Thus it is crucial that employers not only get their compensation right, but also communicate openly and honestly to their workforce about pay.
Finally, the area of performance evaluation is also becoming more and more important in the pay area. Also, the question of fair remuneration applies to both the employer's business objectives and the employee's personal needs. Therefore, it is hugely important for employers to clearly explain their compensation and benefits decisions to their employees, both before they start and when they are in the job.
This not only leads to happier and more productive employees, but also increases the likelihood that staff will form a trusting and engaging relationship with their employers.