Human resource is one of the most important factors that decides the survival and success of a company - Workforce Flexibility introduction. Like every department in a company, Human resource management needs to modify frequently during time to adapt to the continuous changes in external environment. The external changes are as Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (2011) stated: Population aging, a strong economy, and historically low unemployment pose new challenges in terms of skill and labor shortages, productivity, and worker retention.
Furthermore, high female labor force participation rates, the predominance of the dual-earner family, and emerging trends such as elder care make work–family balance a major personal challenge for many workers. This leads to the change in Human Resource management which is about workforce flexibility. There is an idea claiming that flexibility within workforce is essential to maintain competitive advantages of company. In my opinion, it is proper.
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Though flexibility has its own downsides, in general, flexibility always prove the irreplaceable role in keeping the company survive in changing environments and does help maintain company’s competitive advantages. The following argumentative essay is to support the idea above. 2. Definition workforce flexibility: Before knowing the power of workforce flexibility, it is necessary to have an idea of it. According to John D. Keiser and Gerald R. Ferris (n. ), workforce flexibility refers to an organization’s ability to adapt its human resources in a manner appropriate to increasingly changing environmental conditions (Blackwell reference online, n. d). It can be understood that in a continuously and increasingly changing environment, companies and organizations have to be flexible in many aspects including labor force to adapt and survive in harsh surrounding. For example, there are a growing number of women participating in economy as well as other departments such as politics, society, and education.
As a result, women have strong representation in the national economy (online women in politics, 2012). However, women still have to well-perform their responsibility as a mother, a wife in a family. They then are put in to a challenging situation of maintaining their work-life balance scale. Going to markets, getting to work hard at company for promotion, picking up children, cooking, tidying, and getting out for relaxation or relationship building may all be on daily to-do list of nowadays women.
In Human resource’s view, this means the HR managers need to create an environment in which women can both accomplish their working goals and complete their family duty because there is for sure a declining trend of working efficiency if the manager keeps on forcing their labor to function on timely rigidity basis. In other words, it is always essential for organizations and companies to recognize and adapt the changes in external factors in order to create a more flexible environment for human resource to achieve the highest performance level at work.
Another definition of work force flexibility is: Labor market flexibility is the degree to which a company is able to modify its labor force to maximize productivity (investinganswers, n. d). This statement is easier to understand which imply the same meaning to the first definition. However, this one adds one more important factor which is productivity maximization. As explaining from an example above, creating a flexible workplace in which employees find it easier to complete work and personal commitments.
Employers will not experience overload situation on one side (e. g. work), time-thirst on the other side (e. g. family) which consequently leads to stress and decreasing productivity. Therefore, productivity maximization is a key advantage that the second statement mentions. The two definitions, though explaining the same thing, have not the idea of the other. The first definition mentions external environment to adapt. The second one declares the maximization of productivity. Both are important points.
By combining the two definitions, the fullest meaning about workforce flexibility and its advantages will be drawn out. 3. Model explanation: Figure 1 Atkinson model – workforce flexibility To reflect the workforce flexibility, Atkinson (1894) came up with the model which also comprises ways in which flexibility can be shown. Flexibility can be seen on part time jobs. This is applied for many employees being students at school in both Vietnam and other countries. This kind of employee need time for studying and still consider them to be able to contribute to labor force for extra money.
Part time job is one of the choices when employers only have to spend fewer hours compared to full-time jobs of working (Dutta, n. d). Or employees can seek for job-sharing workplace in which 2 people share the same job/task. Job sharing is basically a form of part-time work that provides staff with the equivalent of one full-time employee while giving the job-sharing employees the ability to keep their careers on track while allowing more time for family responsibilities or other activities (Entrepreneur, n. d).
Working under these kinds of jobs gives employees enough time to balance all their commitments. In other words, as a HR manager, creating this kind of flexibility offers staff a chance to take into accounts all the tasks/goals/values needed for their personal life in order for them to work under the best mental and physical mood and yields the best output. Another labor choices for flexible firms are short-term contracts, public subsidy trainees (when company asks Government for target staff to work), delayed recruitment (seasonal jobs).
For example, Vietnam Airlines Company estimates that travelling needs of customers will go up by 10% in 2013 compared to this year and the company will provide extra 1,000 flights during Tet in 10 main routes (vinapco, 2012). Hence, delayed recruitment will be applied for more seasonal attendants serving in Tet holiday. The firm will recruit more staff, train them and let them perform the job in reality in the determined of time. Moreover, out-of-the-company sources can be other choices for flexibility such as sub-contracting, agency temporaries, etc.
For example, according to RMIT University (2012), Hoa Binh Corporation is the sub-contractor of RMIT to build the new building in completed in 2012. To be more specific, RMIT provide educating service while Hoa Binh Corp. is one of Vietnam’s largest builders (RMIT University, 2012). Therefore, RMIT will apply flexibility by hiring Hoa Binh to contruct the school to create benefit for both sides in win-win situation. 4. Advantages: After seeing many choices as well as aspects of work force flexibility, advantages of it should be explained to come to the point maintaining the irm’s competitive advantages. First of all for the employees, flexibility help maintain their work-life balance (workplace flexibility, 2011). Of course, different people have different characteristics, goals and values. We do not need to mention the ones loving and putting the whole life on working because they choose their life to be so. However, for the ones who prefer the balance in life, workforce flexibility helps them have more time for other activities which are also important to them rather than working.
In organizations such as Tous Les Jours bakery, a lot of employees are students. Many students tend to seek a part-time job (giaoducvietnam, 2012) for money. However, working is still their priority which means they have to share time for both working and studying, not to mention other essential activities such as relaxation, building relationships, etc. If working full time, they may not have enough energy to complete those all tasks and inevitably get stressed. This for sure negatively impact on productivity at work.
However, working part time will release them from that harsh situation, allow them allocate time for different tasks more suitably so that employees feel less stressed and work more effective. Due to the balancing benefit, employees with flexibility feel happier with the job and then get greater satisfaction and loyalty to the firm (workplace flexibility, 2011). The key thing in balancing is that because of spending time properly for every role (e. g. worker, member of a family, student), employees will see the gradual improvement in all aspects rather than working (not in the situation of winning one side but losing the other).
In addition, with balancing, staffs have enough time to refresh and they change their roles quickly so they will not get bored when doing too much in one single task. As a result, they will get pleasant and happy to perform well at work, thus to commit longer with their jobs as well as have a more positive attitude, point of view and behavior towards others. Furthermore, employees working flexibly have a high likelihood to explore their abilities in various fields or just to see clearly whether he/she enjoys working in different fields or not.
Working flexible means employee can take more than a job simultaneously or during a short period of time, experiencing different feelings from different jobs to see clearly the best career they belong to. Or more than that, they might recognize the ability to handle and compromise many things at the same time, the ability to work under high pressure created from taking a bunch of tasks and relationships in different environments. However the chief thing is that during experiencing many things concurrently, exploring many abilities in working and living under different environments, employees can clearly see themselves.
They understand their potential, their strengths, their desire, their personalities, their path they need to follow. They become passionate in living, experiencing and working, contributing effort to the workplace and society. And this not only benefits employees but also the workplace and the society. Take a case of Huy?n Chip as an example. She is famous and admired for traveling around the world with only $700 as a start in the age of 19. She travels and works under workforce flexibility types in many countries to experience and she gets so many invaluable skills from that (Trung Uyen et al. 2012). The important thing is that workforce flexibility creates the chance for the girl to experience her life in her own way which satisfy the need of discovering herself and break all the limits, so that she get the zeal in living and working. From the view of employers, workforce flexibility also brings many advantages. Managers can attract and attain high-skilled employees (work place flexibility, 2011) without causing much retaining cost. As mentioned above, flexibility can bring satisfaction to staff, so manager does not have to pay much money to keep them in company.
Actually, for job-sharing, they pay almost the same amount of money to both staff which means that amount would be less compared to the amount paying for 1 staff with bonuses, rewards…which persuade the staff to not to leave. Hence, the productivity of company still remains stable; the cost would not go up while the staff can still feel happy. Delayed recruitment as well as other workforce flexibility types also proves the cost-saving aspect. For instance, Vietnam Airlines company recruits seasonal flight attendants during peak times (Tet, other holidays) (D?i H?c Qu?c Gia Ha N?i, 2012).
This benefits the company in many ways. Company does not endure the lack of personnel during peak times. Official attendants do not have to flight much which might affect their health and productivity. Also, company does not have to try to persuade official staff to take higher workload by giving more bonuses to them. The productivity still remains stable because new comers will be trained and official ones do not appear to be tired on flights. Overall, from the view of company, flexibility helps company much concerning remaining productivity while saving lots of money which is a competitive advantage.
The second advantage would be lowering the staff absence (work place flexibility, 2011). As seen in full-time workers, they usually have to face high workload with high pressure especially when dealing with deadlines. They spend almost a day in workplace, put much effort doing the jobs, brainstorming, analyzing and solving problems so that at the end of the day, they must be really tired and exhausted. This of course for long does not positively affect their health as well as their mind. Therefore, they might have to seek the solutions for all those physical and mental problems.
Vietnam Airlines attendants may be absence because of going to hospitals, or taking days off for relaxation and entertaining. All of these can happen since they have been wiped out at work like the attendants experiencing many tired hours on planes and this thus negatively affect company’s productivity. Then, work force flexibility can be a solution such as part time jobs offering to support the official ones. As stated above, Vietnam Airlines recruits seasonal attendants sometimes (D?i H?c Qu?c Gia Ha N?i, 2012). The unplanned absence rate will decline as both official and seasonal staff do not encounter high-intense of work.
They are less stressed in meeting both their job requirements and outside commitments, have enough time to refresh and regain energy and mental health to continue to work better days after days. This for sure will increase the productivity for the company as well as improve the image of the company in customers’ mind for their professional workforce adjustment which strongly improves company’s competitive advantage. Another benefit for company when applying workforce flexibility is increasing skills and creativeness for managers (work place flexibility, 2011).
They are challenged to always adjust to the fluctuation of external environment. They have to think of new sources of labor market which add on to support the official ones, come up with ways to manage, control and operate all diverse labor sources besides compromise the benefit of all different sources and company’s goals. They also brainstorm for ways to cope with uncertain situations related to workforce. For example, Vietnam Airlines recruits seasonal staff to work during Tet (peak time) (D?i H?c Qu?c Gia Ha N?i, 2012). The manager has to improvise when it comes to a sudden addition flight due to high level of lying needs. Manager has to prepare the back-up attendants with no clash in time, order many departments to check, calculate cost and benefit to decide whether to make the flight or not while keep track on other activities, manage the work of adjust the amount of salary for back up attendants if there is any changes within these people in any flight, etc. In general, with many channels of labor under workforce flexibility, it is a must for managers to be creative, coming up ways to make sure the fluency in running company which a an aspect of competitive advantages.
The purpose of discussing all of those advantages concerning employers and employees above is to drive to the final point: maintaining competitive advantages of company. The fact that a company applies workforce flexibility will attract high-skilled employees yet commit them a life of experience which means they involve themselves in many different activities with different roles to complete. Not only attract but also does the company attain those proficient employees by helping maintain their own life-balance scale thus creating job satisfaction and loyalty as well as reduce the absence rate.
Moreover, flexibility helps employees explore their abilities and get the passion in performing the best at work. In addition, flexibility forces manager to think creatively in managing, controlling labor, modifying labor structure to accomplish the company’s objectives in a changing environment. From both sides: employers and employees, the productivity is the priority that flexibility aims at. All of the benefits coming from flexibility deals with how to maximize the productivity mentioned in definitions which help maintain competitive advantage of the firm.
With flexibility, both employees and employers work the best they can to yield to highest level of output or even come up with brand new unique productive ways of performing their work. 5. Conclusion: By taking definition as a basis, then discussing some outstanding benefits from the view of employers and employees to consolidate the key factor (productivity maximization) mentioned in definition in maintaining company’s strengths, it is clear to see that workforce flexibility does help sustain the firm’s competitive advantages.
When the trend of going forth and experiencing life has been dramatically growing within young generation, when people do not really consider working is the only task, workforce flexibility correspondingly proves its increasingly important role in human resource management to better the workplace and better the society.