Author: 
Joel Ainscough, Queensland University of Technology

In the midst of a changing work environment there are some factors that employers in non-profit organisations may need to consider.

Provided here are some human resource management tips for consideration in the modern Australian workforce.

Work-life balance

The term “Work-life balance” means exactly what you would think; it’s finding the middle ground between professional work commitments and personal life commitments. Drawing quickly to a close are the days of the nine to ffive, Monday to Friday workforce. In its place the rise of the flexible workplace is currently occurring.

Remembering that workers are human, and as such usually have outside commitments, such as family, hobbies and volunteer work, to compensate there are indeed ways to balance these commitments out with the work that needs doing. Simple things like flexible scheduling serve as an important compromise and could ultimately save money in the long run (turnover and new hiring are never cheap): rather than having the same hours every day of the week, employees can work longer on some days than others, or even work three or four long days instead of the average five day week. Coupled together with advances in technology which have led to  the ease in which we can now talk, see and even share work in real time, the workplace is more flexible than ever.

Core hours

In addition, many employers have realised that not everyone needs to work the same hours. Working together to develop “core hours” in which employees must be present, but allowing flexibility to decide on the hours outside of this is also an effective way to achieve a more flexible workforce. Some may even prefer or need a break in the workday, but would be willing to resume work after.

For example: John and his wife both have a seven hour work day; John’s core hours are 10am to 2pm in which he must be present at the office in case of work meetings or to share information. John arrives at work at 8am and begins work, however John is also a parent of a young child that needs to be picked up from school, so he has arranged to leave work at 2pm to pick up his child, and stay at home with them until his wife arrives home at 5pm. After this John goes back to work to finish his hours: he arrives back at work at 5:30pm and finishes at 7:30pm. By allowing for a break in his workday, John can fulfil his obligations to his family, but also come back and finish his assigned work. 

Workforce diversity

as most nonprofit organisations will know, a diverse workforce has multiple strengths. However, diversity is a broader term than just ethnicity. One of the largest issues that will soon be apparent in the Australian workforce is that of the ageing population. With the rise of workers over the age of 60 (it is estimated that 50% of the workforce will be over 60 by 2055) it is important to consider if your workforce is diverse in terms of age. With age comes experience, but with youth comes innovation, so it is beneficial for a workplace to have an effective mixture of both.

There is also the case of education and experience, is it better to have a formally educated employee, or one that has prior experience in the field? Again, diversity is important. Having only one or the other presents some potential issues, the educated may overlook or undervalue certain practical aspects of the work, while the experienced may be stuck into doing things the same way without stepping back to consider areas for improvement. The effective workforce has one golden rule: balance is the key. Take a moment to mentally step outside your workplace looking in: what is the culture and what are the options for work flexibility? Do they need to be updated?  

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