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Human Resources

Why it’s worth changing your approach to planning work time

By Łukasz Chodkowski, managing director, Déhora
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We are currently facing challenges that no one has ever had to deal with in the labour market in Poland before.

HR portals are full of pessimism. There’s no arguing with demographics. The same goes for unemployment data. For many months, employers have been testing new recruitment solutions as well as, what is a relatively new phenomenon, in regard to employee retention. Aside from the lack of a qualified labour force and an ageing working population in Poland, there’s also the phenomenon of individualisation. The increasingly diverse and younger generations are entering the market force the search for unconventional solutions. We can discuss the issue of whether the demanding attitude of young employees entering the labour market is justified or the issue of their sense of attachment or responsibility. Instead, we can also think about how to quickly adapt to the changing reality of the labour market.

Current data indicates that today, millennials constitute approximately 35% of the working population. It is estimated (by Juniper Networks) that in 2020, they will constitute 46% of the working population. We also have generation X, Y, and the difficult to classify youngest Generation C – connected, whose career is just starting. Therefore, we can safely assume that there are still many challenges ahead of use related to the rapid adaptation of our businesses to the individualised generational diversity.

Aren’t we lucky?

Companies are increasingly able to deal with managing diversity. Let’s take a look at working time. Let’s think about any solutions that allow us to better deal with so many new issues and whether they are ultimately reconcilable.

The classic approach to work-time planning assumes that starting with workloads and requirements regarding personnel, we can define shift work in a way that allows us to develop a schedule with a certain permanent cycle of repeatability. Many businesses with which we begin to cooperate operate in accordance with schemes such as three- or four-shift working that were created as far back as the 1960s! This type of an approach does not provide sufficient flexibility, which translates into disruptions as a result of which only a small part of the schedule is realised according to plan. This type of classic work time planning concept assumes that employees have little or no influence on their work schedules; this also seldom takes into account current knowledge regarding work time ergonomics.  

The answer to the changing reality, also when it comes to work time planning, is self-rostering. This is the possibility of implementing innovations at the human and social level resulting in permanent benefits for organisations and employees. In regard to working time, the responsibility for creating schedules ceases to be passed off to the employer, and planning is carried out by employees around a framework of ‘game rules’ and personal preferences that are agreed upon in the given organisation. This methodology reconciles the interests of the employer and employees by allowing for personal plans to be prepared, while answering HR and business needs.  

The modern work time planning concept assumes that employees will be able to actively influence the schedule while it is being prepared. A change in the approach to working time planning takes courage. Companies that decided to take such a step have experienced a significant change in culture. Everything that until now was obvious and repeatable is no longer so. There are no inflexible work shifts. The basis for the preparation of a schedule is the need for personnel, created on the basis of predictable workloads. It is in regard to this need that each employee, on the basis of previously determined rules, ‘signs up’ to the schedule. Commitment and a feeling of responsibility are key here. As a result, it turns out that more than 90% of employees prefer solutions of this type.

The latest studies indicate that companies that decided to implement a modern work-time planning concept experienced a 3% to 8% increase in productivity coupled with a 10% to 25% decrease in absences and a 10% to 25% decrease in overtime. It is also easier for them to attract and retain employees.

Today’s world significantly differs from that of a few years ago and requires solutions that are much better tailored to work time and private lives. Companies wish to remain attractive employers, and the standard inflexible system does not square with this goal. Therefore, why not implement such solutions in which those that want, can independently prepare their own schedules and thus become a pioneer?

According to studies carried out by the Poznań University of Economics, for Generation C, the most important things in life are – in order of importance – family, friends and the home, interests, and only then money, work, and careers. Employers are chosen by them in a precise manner, so that their work conditions correspond to their life needs. The verdict in relation to the classical approach vs. modern work time planning therefore seems to be obvious. 

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