HR holds the key to firms’ survival in flexible future

HR professionals need to drive through flexible working policies or see their organisations struggle against “more enlightened” competitors.

A survey has found that many organisations will still be failing to allow staff a work-life balance in five years’ time.

Although 90 per cent of the senior HR professionals surveyed by Hay Management Consultants said their companies would be family-friendly by 2005, detailed questions revealed the pace of change is likely to be slow.

Only about half of the 123 respondents plan to offer flexible working hours – perhaps the most basic requirement for family-friendly status – by 2005.

Less than a quarter would provide practical support, such as crêches, to make work life easier. And a mere one in 10 said they would be flexible enough to offer solutions to individuals’ needs.

Only about a third of those surveyed said their organisations, which included 20 per cent of the FTSE 100, would listen to staffs’ views on the work environment. In fact, only 42 per cent believe their organisations would have any respect at all for their staff.

While the figures represent substantial improvements on the current position, truly “enlightened” employers will still be in the minority. The rest will be at danger of losing out to the competition.

“Those late to adapt can expect to receive a battering from their more enlightened rivals,” warned Steve Watson, head of reward and remuneration at Hay.

He added, “The most sophisticated organisations will start to profile and segment their employee base, in much the same way as their customer base, to ensure their employees’ needs are understood and met.”

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