Strategic advantages of the Flexible Firm Model and its Implementation
As we have discussed earlier the Flexible Firm Model is mostly integrated into flexible large, technologically advanced employers that operate within concentrated or niche markets in order to retain valued knowledge workers.
Increasingly, these professionals ask for more flexible work arrangements. Thus is the surge in adopting this model into modern day management practices.
For a generation now, the traditional approach to careers has proven to encroach often on a healthy work/life balance. Ultimately, this affects productivity. As a result, many people are re-assessing their priorities. Generations X and Y want flexibility and balance.
What””s needed is a win-win for firms and personnel, because what looks like a perk today will be a requirement of the workplace tomorrow. Above all, this is a significant issue for everyone — male and female, those with children and those without, equity partners, associates, managers and staff.
A flexible workplace is one key to future success for most organizations. At present, even if most sizable firms have balanced hours and flexibility programs, they are underutilized and largely ineffective. Consequently, they face high turnover costs, migration of talented professionals, and uncertainty for clients.
Also as discussed earlier the elements of flexibility can include balanced or flexible hours, alternative work locations, cross-training and flexible staffing.
The strategic advantage of the Flexible Firm Model is immense. Some of them are listed as follows;
Advantages to the firm
- Reduced labour turnover
- Short-term and long-term savings (including recruiting and space costs, lost billings, lost clients, training time, etc.)
- Reduced risk (fewer new people cycling in and out of firms who require training to learn how the firm works)
- More satisfied clients especially those who are sensitive to work/life issues — because of continuity of their service teams
- Employability- greater recruiting success as an “employer of choice.”
Advantage to the employee
- Reduced stress
- Increased morale
- Work expectations that are managed proactively rather than reactively
- Greater productivity, satisfaction, loyalty and pride
Implementation of the Flexible Firm Model
Usually firms work with a consulting firm or specialized professionals to devise a framework for and effectively implement successful flexible work arrangements. They can use the following criteria on the implementation of this model:
- Provide an objective analysis for the firm in concern and its culture, presenting interview results and numerical data
- Help create policies for schedules, teaming, alternative work locations, compensation, benefits, recruiting and selection etc.
- Conduct individual coaching or structured/ focused training programmes for associates, partners or staff and their supervisors planning a flexible work arrangement
- Facilitate true and effective dialogue with both the participants in flexible work arrangements and their supervisors to anticipate problems, talk through “un-discussable” issues, and create a model for dealing with setbacks that may occur in the future
- Provide follow-up and controlling mechanisms to ensure ongoing effectiveness
- Provide evaluation of the programme based on criteria developed in partnership with the firm and recommendations for adjustments.
- Ensure the standard of the programme and it’s continuity.
Considering we now live in an knowledge based era, with an influx of knowledge workers, the Flexible Firm Model will be the key in the survival and success of firms. Such firms will have the following characteristics;
- Have specific, custom-tailored policies governing flexible work arrangements, requiring clear input and commitments from the firm and the individual employee, as well as definitive criteria for measuring success.
- Have low turnover of desired professionals and staff who remain for many years, confident that the firm values their contributions and will work with them during different phases of their lives.
- Attract the highest quality recruits, eager to be hired by such a firm, knowing its reputation as a high-quality workplace that values individual employees.
- Attract and retain high-quality clients, who will be impressed with the stability of the firm and reward the firm with long-term work relationships.
- Have a bottom line that handsomely reflects its strong policies, low turnover and high quality workforce.