A look at the future of work
According to 3R Chief Executive, Adele Rose, the importance of relationships between employees and employers and how we work and interact has never been more relevant following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just a few years ago working from home was uncommon for mainstream businesses. Paying employees for a five-day week, while only working four? Unheard of. However, over the last few years, and certainly in the wake of the pandemic, reassessing these options and so many others, has become necessary.
And it’s not just about being able to work in your PJs – there are significant benefits such as reduced costs as employees save on commuting, while emissions from travel are reduced.
There are also the health and wellbeing benefits. If an employee used to spend an hour or more a day commuting, they could now spend that time with their family or exercising – a common thread of the lockdown has been many people enjoying the slower pace of life without the daily commute.
Skills shortages are one of the major challenges facing businesses, especially those in the regions, says Adele. There are a number of reasons for this, including experienced workers reaching retirement age, repetitive roles being replaced by automation and a mismatch between training and education and the skills required in new industries.
A pre-lockdown report by Wiley Education Services and Future Workplace showed a large number of organisations believed they have a skills gap, leading to recruitment challenges, and decreases in efficiency. “How this will pan out post-lockdown is yet to be seen,” Adele says, “but many employers were realising they need to look beyond simply offering more money, engaging in a bidding war to attract and retain people with the right skills.”
Some of the approaches have included partnering with educational institutions to foster graduates with the right skills, more investment in upskilling and retraining their existing workforce as automation is embraced, focusing on developing a culture that attracts employees that are a good fit with organisational values, and offering flexibility for people to pursue professional and personal fulfillment outside the business.
According to Adele, a great example is where employees may be able to work part time or on a contract basis for more than one employer in complementary roles: “The result is more varied work and greater skills development – benefiting the employers as well as employees.”
Offering benefits and variety that go beyond just remuneration can lead to greater staff retention and satisfied employees. “As companies feel their way through the next 12 months a joint approach may have even greater appeal or even be a necessity,” says Adele.
For some time, 3R has been engaged in a range of these solutions, including paid time off for staff wishing to volunteer for charities, flexible working from home arrangements, and looking outside the traditional 9am-5pm, five days a week paradigm where possible.
3R’s Materials Innovation Manager, Natalie Martin, recently adjusted her role by working fewer hours for 3R while offering her food technology skills on a contract basis to the large food processing industry in Hawke’s Bay.
Natalie proposed the idea after seeing a need in the Hawke’s Bay food industry for contract workers with her skills. It’s been a positive move, she says. “The work at 3R often has longer time frames, a bit of a ‘slow burn’. This is a nice balance to the food industry which is fast-paced. I really like the diversity of work.”
The arrangement means more than one business gets to make use of her valuable skills, and Natalie is able to further her professional development through these complimentary roles. All parties benefit from her increasing skills and knowledge.
In another example, our recently appointed Finance Manager, Pam Bicknell, has taken on the role in a part time capacity in order to pursue her passion for massage therapy in her own small business.
“Wanting to pursue my other passion of massage therapy but knowing the financial realities of small business start-ups versus making ends meet, I went looking for a part time role in my first chosen career of corporate finance,” she says.
“The role at 3R offered me the opportunity to use my core skills, to work more hours in the busy part of the accounting cycle, and work less hours during the slow parts of the month. It’s a perfect scenario for me.”
One caveat, says Adele, is the need to ensure balance for our people and the business. Employers need to be aware of who the other parties are so there is neither too much work or too little work and the responsibilities of all parties to each other is fulfilled.