It is precisely in the world of work that we are experiencing the greatest upheaval that at least I have ever experienced in my 25 years of professional life. Demographic change, digitalization and a shortage of skilled workers are presenting companies with immense challenges. And yet, almost everywhere we find the classic working time models that have existed since the 1980s or 1990s.
The need for flexibility is becoming ever greater, and at the same time it is becoming increasingly important to provide employees with attractive working conditions if you want to find new staff and retain the existing ones. This sounds like squaring the circle in the first step, but it is not mandatory.
With innovative working time models, it is possible to simultaneously create the necessary operational flexibility and also meet the employees’ need for a work-life balance.
The following components are required for this type of working time model:
1. Assessment of staffing needs
In order to define flexible working time models that are oriented to company requirements, it is first necessary to know the company’s needs. Here, workforce analytics approaches can be used to analyze the flexibility requirements (seasonal, per week, per day, intraday) and, if necessary, to develop forecast models on this basis.
Because the better the forecast of personnel requirements, the more planning reliability can be given to the employees.
Without such forecasts, every year you are surprised by the fact that it is Christmas and you have to reschedule employees at short notice. In addition, you need clear requirements specifications for self-determined working time systems.
2. Individualisation of working time
In most companies there is exactly one full-time model. And this despite the fact that there are a wide variety of employees with a wide range of flexibility options. A young unattached employee can be deployed in a completely different way to young parents or parents whose children have already left home. It is therefore advisable to offer several working time models with different degrees of flexibility, which employees can choose depending on the phase of their lives. It is important that these models are attractively designed so that employees can also choose them voluntarily.
The idea behind this is that the sum total of employees’ flexibility options is combined in such a way that the operational flexibility needs are covered without overburdening the individual(s).
3. Life phase-oriented working time models / lifetime working time account
In the respective phases of life, employees must be able to choose between different working time models (see point 2) and must also be able to take time off or work part-time. At the end of their working life, employees should be able to make a smooth transition to retirement (e.g. 4-day week from the age of 60 and 3-day week from the age of 63). For most employees, however, this will only be possible if they do not earn less as a result and if they receive reductions in their pension if necessary. It therefore makes sense to introduce a lifetime working time account, from which the difference to the full-time salary can be balanced.
This reduces the burden on older employees, lowers the sickness rate and keeps the experience in the company for a long time.
In addition, employees with a 3-day week are extremely flexible and can, for example, work 5 days during vacation periods, so that parents with school-age children can go on vacation.
4. Part time
More and more employees want to work part-time and there are many demand structures that even require part-time. For example, if you need 100 full-time equivalents (FTEs) on average, but regularly need 120 heads during demand peaks, you can increase the number of heads by working part-time while keeping the number of FTEs the same.
5. Demand-oriented self-determination
The influence on their own working time organisation makes an enormous contribution to employee satisfaction. For this reason, self-organisation and self-planning by employees should be made possible within the framework of operational requirements and taking into account the degree of maturity.
The greatest influence on one’s own working time is exerted in the white collar sector by confidential working time and in the blue collar sector by group work.
What both have in common is that they only work if the rules are clear and both employees and managers have a corresponding degree of maturity. Beyond the self-determination of working hours, it is also about self-determination of the place of work, at least in the white collar area.
The described concepts cannot be administered with conventional systems or approaches. Excel, which is so popular in personnel resource planning, very quickly reaches its limits here.
In order to support individualized, self-determined working time models and mobile work, professional systems for demand analysis and forecasting as well as workforce management are required.
With these systems, even complex, flexible shift planning can be made possible, taking into account the wishes of employees.
This article is to be seen as an overview article. Every single point could be described in great detail. However, there will be follow-up articles on this.