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Workplace Flexibility- Need to Reengineer the Workplace

workplace flexibility
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Workplace Flexibility- Need to Reengineer the Workplace

It’s official if you were born after 1965 be prepared to work until your 70 years of age. Today, Australia’s treasurer Joe Hockey announced that the retirement age is to be lifted to 70 by 2035.

With an ageing population, this was inevitably going to happen at some point. Coming from Generation X myself, I’m happy to keep working till I’m 70 but some major workplace reengineering needs to happen if we can successfully provide for ourselves.

There are a number of workplace and social challenges that are of concern to the generations of our society. Baby boomers, for example, may have the desire to work but are faced with the reality of age discrimination stopping them from getting work. Some can’t work because they are caring for their grandchildren. We find Generation X and some Generation Y working 12 hour days who are struggling to achieve work-life balance because of a lack of workplace flexibility. Many are raising children and are time poor. Some Generation Y’s are working part time jobs and regardless of their extensive educational qualifications, are struggling to find more secure work.

While older workers find it harder to get back into the workforce for various reasons, our youth are experiencing a similar outcome. Youth unemployment has jumped to 12.5% in March 2014 and is expected to keep rising.

Each generation and indeed every individual has different work and social needs as they age over their life time, yet the way we work still seems to stay the same. The pattern above suggests that there is too much work for Generation X and the older Generation Y’s to handle and yet there is too little work for older workers and our young adults.

There is no doubt in my mind that the decision taken today by Joe Hockey needs to trigger a fresh approach to the way we work and how we think about workplace flexibility. The distribution of work tasks and work conditions within private corporations and the public sector need a shakeup and leaders within these organisations are in the position to make this happen. We know that older workers have no desire to climb the corporate ladder but want to feel valued, earn a part time income and make a meaningful contribution. Generation X want more time freedom, to feel less stressed and earn enough income to provide for their growing families. Generation Y are looking for opportunities that will challenge them and to contribute in meaningful ways.

If you are a leader in an organisation, it’s time to look at the ingredients of your staff recipe. Redesigning our workplaces to be supportive and inclusive of all generations allows for vital mentoring and training to take place between older and younger workers. Allowing Generation X workers to commute less and engage in flexible work arrangements will give this generation the time to work and play. For all generations, a move towards working on tasks with more autonomy would improve productivity and provide workplace flexibility and a quality of life.

Building and accommodating an intergenerational workforce within a flexible workplace could not only address the immediate needs of workers but can counter act the skill mismatch between the unemployed and jobs. If we continue to outsource jobs overseas and import international skilled workers, how on earth are we going to be able to work till we are 70 and be able to provide for ourselves.