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Flexibility and resilience can boost the bottom line

March 10 2014 - A resilient workforce is vital to all businesses, not just those in high pressure industries, according to talent management consultancy, a&dc.

Resilience training has been offered to civil servants to cope with criticism. The consltancy has called for all organisations to build this element into their staff training programmes before high pressure or high risk situations cause top talent to be lost.

Research has shown a direct correlation between top talent losses and stress. For example, with a recent Korn-Ferry study reported that 90% of leaders were let go due to physical or mental conditions impairing their leadership effectiveness.

According to Seren Trewavas, Principal Consultant at a&dc:

"Whitehall's resilience training is a lesson for all businesses on the importance of equipping employees with the skills to succeed and thrive in everyday working environments. But, while the introduction of this training is a direct result of the recognition of the stressful arena employees are operating in, the pace of change in this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) business world means cultivating resilience among the workforce is a vital part of employee retention and development strategies at all levels."

There is an argument that resilience is a trait you are born with, but the consultancy contends that it can be cultivated. Seren Trewavas commented:

"It's true that resilience is complex and, as our long term research shows, involves a mix of personal characteristics, rather than just one dimension. These characteristics are made up of attitude, mindset and behaviours that can all be developed - in any individual, at any stage of their career. Interventions include resilience questionnaires, workshops, workbooks, coaching and ongoing development plans, and can also be part of wider internal programmes, such as creating an engaged workforce. Talent management teams need to recognise that developing individual resilience will benefit the organisation as a whole and, ultimately, will have a positive effect on the bottom line."

Background

Flexible working and job-sharing have not been widespread among the UK's managers but a study conducted as long ago as 2001 showed that those who can make use of flexi-time, reduced hours or home working can improve their performance significantly. In fact the study revealed that managers of both flexible and job sharing executives gave them higher output ratings than their full-time equivalents. Resilience was highlighted as a significant quality for job performance in a flexible environment.

Commissioned by The Resource Connection, a flexible work company, and The Industrial Society, the study was carried out in conjunction with the assessment and development specialists SHL. They assessed the characteristics of flexible workers and the attitudes of their managers to see what made flexible contracts work effectively. The study also assessed the most suitable personality traits for jobsharers, together with the combination of factors necessary for the most productive jobshare partnerships.

Key findings for flexible workers included:

  • 70% of the sample were rated higher than full-time colleagues, and their own output in previous full-time work
  • 60% were given very good/excellent rankings at problem-solving
  • and analysis
  • 60% were rated very good/excellent at resilience in the face of setbacks
  • Higher ratings on resilience, leadership and commitment than their full-time equivalents

For job sharers:

  • 70% of job sharing executives were perceived to have 30% increased output over one person doing the same job
  • Jobsharers were rated highly on problem solving, teamwork and flexibility



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