Flexible working and wellbeing: the role of global mobility
With the decision made to leave the EU, Dr Sue Shortland explains the key points HR must consider to ensure that their company's policy supports flexible working and employee wellbeing.
Personal flexibilityWhile flexible working is often viewed as an organisational concept, it is important to remember that flexibility is also associated with personal traits. These refer to individual characteristics that help to bring about strategic organisational objectives. Thus, for example, personal flexibility is associated with:
- Ability to manage complexity and uncertainty
- Tolerance of ambiguity
- Being non-judgmental
- Having an interest in others
- Being willing to acquire new behaviours and skills
Sustainable organisational performanceAs we approach the UK’s departure from the EU, the emphasis will be not only upon boosting performance in the short-term but also upon ensuring that this will be sustainable post-Brexit. Once again, global mobility professionals have an important strategic contribution to make in relation to improving mobility outcomes. This will require a focus on:
- Balanced short-term and long-term objectives
- Agility to adapt to challenges and opportunities
- Action to improve engagement via flexible working and fostering assignee flexibility
- Treating relocated employees as a core asset
- Helping line managers to understand the role of flexible approaches to the deployment of individuals in enhancing organisational performance
- Implementing HR and mobility policies to enhance commitment, loyalty and engagement
Work intensification, wellbeing and work-life balanceIn addition to implementing flexible approaches to the deployment of personnel, identifying the skills and behaviours required in different locations and advising on policy implications, global mobility professionals should be aware of the unintended consequences of flexible working and individual flexibility.While flexible working can lead to job satisfaction and organisational commitment, it may require employees to trade significant additional effort for flexibility. For example, employees who undertake international roles through commuting or frequent business travel may experience stress and exhaustion through their frequent flyer lifestyle. Those who undertake international roles virtually can experience personal autonomy but this can lead to employees creating their own work intensification, for instance by extending their working day to operate across global time zones.It is therefore critical that the neutrality of the concept of flexible working, flexibility and their contribution to high performance working be questioned. As well as creating positive performance outcomes, organisational and individual flexibility can lead to work intensification and poor work-life balance. As Brexit approaches – and global mobility professionals are called upon to contribute to strategic decisions on the means of raising return on investment and organisational performance outcomes – a balanced view on how flexible approaches to mobility can contribute will be critical to organisational success.
The first components in Relocate Global’s new online mobility toolkit, which provides information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas, are now available to download.
- Relocation policy design and review principles factsheet
- Family support guiding principles factsheet
- Group move planning and communications factsheet
- Gender diversity: the business case factsheet
- Managing mobile careers and career pathing factsheet
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