We now have mums AND dads who stay at home, mums and dads telecommuting, people juggling toddlers and many managing or mismanaging aged parents.
There are Gen Ys bed-hopping back to their parents, Gen X-ers considering the Baby Boomers as selfish, slow and time wasters – and some 70s-80s returning to the workforce. Nothing seems predictable or under control.
Societies everywhere are undergoing enormous shifts in attitude, composition and behaviour. With globalisation of the marketplace, population and demographic shifts, a huge amount of accessible information to sift through every 24 hours, we can only expect this volatility to be reflected in the workplace. Some people like it this way and are seizing on the opportunities it presents. Others feel besieged and threatened. There will inevitably be consequences for people’s actions and reactions, so it’s in everyone’s interests to look at where these trends are heading.
Employment in today’s world is chaotic, where almost everything and anything goes, and the old rules don’t always apply. It’s a little anarchic in fact; no wonder people feel insecure.
How can managers glide in their role without stumbling and crumbling?
By setting up some sensible but flexible rules of thumb that don’t impact on company bottom lines, but take into account people’s increasingly multi-faceted realities.
- Employee wellbeing contributes immeasurably to their output, and by showing you care and demonstrating this belief, you will have workers who are more loyal, contented and collaborative.
- Forget the notion of a fixed 9-5 (or 8-6 or 7-7) “office day” and instead set KPIs and targets that can be delivered on a timely project by project basis, rather than killing productivity by demanding that you see bottoms on seats at all hours.
- Consider job-sharing between equally valuable employees with different needs and timetables. Can you manage this equitably so that no resentment builds, by ensuring open lines of communication and thoughtful modes of feedback?
- Are you willing to reward innovation and solutions to workflow and output dilemmas? If you’re prepared to discuss this honestly and fairly, you may be agreeably surprised at what people will come up with.
What can employees do to manage themselves and their work effectively?
Your life is your own, but those that pay you are within their rights to expect top-notch delivery. Reassure them that you have this well in hand, and speak up if things are proving difficult. It’s in your interests to work collaboratively, to have good ideas about tricky or complex situations and to broach suggestions with tact and sensitivity.
Take responsibility for your private life – don’t assume that others will always pick up the tab. In situations where you make the decision to have children, discuss how work and home life can be feasibly managed, particularly if you have to work (in today’s economy, many people do not have a choice).
Cartoon courtesy of Kelly King and Juliette Brodsky
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.