Tag Archives: Employment

How To Boost Your Income With A Flexible Retirement

The Over 50s are flying the flag for flexible working

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With the cost of living rising for everyone, many retirees today are worried that their pensions may not be enough for them to enjoy their retirement. This uncertainty is also reflected in employment figures as only 38% of those above the state pension age are in fact fully retired. With the number of over-65 works doubling in the last decade alone, finding a rewarding job that offers the chance to also enjoy your life is no small task.

While older workers may not always feel ahead of the next tech trend in the office, they are in fact championing a new working culture in the UK through working flexibly. ‘Flexible working’ can refer to any working pattern outwith the typical Monday to Friday 9 till 5 and can include part-time, shift work, working from home and job sharing, all options very popular with workers in their 50s, 60s and 70s. On average, workers in their 60s reject the typical 35 hours for a much more manageable 24, offering both a secure income and time to socialise outside of work.

While flexible working can be seen as the solution for older workers wishing to stagger their retirement with further employment, finding quality job vacancies that can offer flexible hours can be difficult.  Following her own struggle to find flexible work after having twins, businesswoman Tracey Eker sought to rectify this problem by launching Flexiworkforce.com, the only UK-wide job site dedicated to flexible jobs.

Discussing the potential of flexible working to empower older workers, Tracey Eker asserts that, ‘Flexible working can be an ideal solution for older workers who working but would like the chance to also enjoy their life a bit more. There are many long-term unemployed workers who have been out of the workforce because of a lack of adequate flexible working but employers are actually desperate for their skills. Through Flexiworkforce we can connect these groups!

Flexiworkforce will be attending the upcoming ‘The 50+ Show’ in Glasgow this month as well as giving presentations on the potential of flexible working for older workers, including discussion with Jo Swinson, Cabinet Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations, and the banking chain Santander.

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Flexible Working Thought Leaders

Neil Patrick of 40 Plus Career Guru talks Flexible Working

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Here at Flexiworkforce we aim to connect with the key thought leaders on workplace trends. Today, we spoke with Neil Patrick, the creator and editor of the popular blog 40pluscareerguru. Neil’s blog has quickly gained prominence as a one of the key online commentaries about career issues, particularly for mature professionals. Here’re our questions and his answers.

What is your background and why did you begin writing your blog, 40pluscareerguru.com?

I spent the first 20 years of my career in banking and finance. I initially worked for international banks, but later became a founding director of three fast growth financial businesses. Two were very successful. One was not. So I’ve gained a diverse experience of business within both large corporations and small entrepreneurial businesses. And critically of both success and failure.

More recently, I have transitioned from being an employee to a self-employed consultant. I also became fascinated by how the transformation of the employment landscape has passed most professionals by. Old ideas about our how we should manage our careers have been swept away by transformations in media, recruitment and the world of work. And the vast majority of people have been blissfully unaware of this.

Our jobs are so critical to our lives that I felt this subject demanded attention. It seemed that few people were paying attention to the perfect storm that had arisen through the collision of the digital age, global recession, globalisation and ageism. No-one seemed to have connected these dots and understood the big picture.

Particularly I noticed that my own peers, typically mature and accomplished professionals were virtually completely unaware of these changes. They had become incredibly vulnerable without really appreciating why or what to do about it.

These were the reasons I set up 40pluscareerguru. I wanted to inform people about these changes and what they needed to do to protect their futures. It’s a labour of love, but a mission that I feel is vital.

In your opinion, what are the main benefits that 40 plus employees bring to the multi-generational workforce?

I have written numerous posts about this subject. One of them is here and in it I set out the top 10 things which I think older employees have to offer.

One of the key strengths of older workers is that they are not on a mission to be the next big thing. They just want to do a good job. This brings a totally different attitude. They’ve seen success and failure so many times, that although they cannot easily show these things on their CVs, this life experience brings huge value to the teams they work with.

What do you see as the career priorities of over 40 employees? 

The over 40s are in the second half of their working lives. But they are in a far worse condition financially than their parents. The recession has wrecked their balance sheets at a stage of life when previously they would be heading towards a comfortable retirement.

In 2008 and the subsequent years, the professional middle classes in the US and Europe were struck by a tsunami so huge that it has devastated their personal assets.

Property asset values tumbled, investments had billions wiped off, pension plans shrivelled, savings interest rarely even matched inflation. All the while, living costs and particularly food and energy bills rose and rose. Hardly anyone in the professional classes became wealthier between 2008 and today.

In the words of one of my key collaborators, John Tarnoff in California:

There are many statistics available, but the most striking number to me is this one: 80 percent of us have saved less than $100,000 for our retirement. Given the economics of the last five years, and the prospects ahead of us, what this means is that the Boomers are going to have to keep working – and the problem there is that neither we nor society at large are prepared for us to remain in the work force.

Few are able to look forward to a comfortable retirement when they reach 65 unless they drastically revaluate what they are going to do to keep the money coming in.

To what extent does ageism remain an issue in the UK workforce? What could be done to improve this and enhance the prospects of over 40s? 

There’s very little data available to quantify this issue. Worse, it’s too easy for employers to sidestep their legal obligations regarding ageism. Ageism is not just a workplace issue, it’s a societal one.

However there is some data which is instructive. According to the European Social Survey in 2011, a major piece of research carried out across 28 countries, nearly two out of five Britons claim they have been ignored or patronised because of ageist views. Only in Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the figures worse.

One third of Britons think those over 70 are a burden on health services. Two out of five people in the UK say they have been shown a lack of respect because of their age. In the UK, youth is thought to end at 35 compared with people in Greece who said it ended at 52.

In the UK, 64% of people thought age discrimination is a ‘very serious or quite serious problem.’ Only in France, where the figure is 68%, did more people express concern.

The figures also reveal that in the UK, 41% of people thought that people aged 70 or over contributed little to the economy and in addition 36% thought that people over 70 were a burden on healthcare services.

According to the report, there were fears surrounding age discrimination in the workplace with around half of Britons interviewed who are aged over 50 saying they were concerned about employers showing preference to people in the their 20s.

In my view, ageism is that last of the ‘isms’ to become socially unacceptable. Only when it is taken as seriously as sexism and racism can we expect to see any significant improvement.

What is your opinion of the UK government’s recent changes to the right to request flexible working? Do you believe that the changes are a step in the right direction or are you of the view that more needs to be done to promote more progressive attitudes to working?

I think the new rules should be welcomed. But I expect little to change very quickly. Some enlightened employers have already embraced these new practices ahead of the legal requirement to do so and mostly their reports are positive.

Many more I think will drag their heels out of complacency and fear of the unknown. But gradually over time, I think flexible working arrangements will become more and more accepted as the norm and 10 or 15 years from now, we’ll look back at the 9-5 mentality as being archaic.

And personally I can’t wait for the day when I can get into my car at 8am and expect to be able to drive more than a couple of miles!

We’d like to thank Neil for his time and the insights he has shared with us. You can follow his blog here. He’s also on Twitter @Newcareerguru.

 Find UK-wide remote flexible working/home working opportunities on  flexiworkforce.com 

 

The Importance of Employee Engagement

Are You doing enough to motivate your workforce?

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Arguably, the biggest single threat to staff retention and productivity within the workplace is the issue of employee engagement. Employee engagement may be defined as a way of working whereby employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values and motivated to contribute to the overall success of the business, while at the same time being able to enhance their own sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

Employee engagement is vital to the successful running of an organisation in two different ways:

  1. Employee engagement improves employee attitude, meaning that the employee will feel a sense of loyalty and pride at being part of the organisation, as a result of the support and positive reinforcement they receive.
  2. Employee engagement will improve the employee’s actions, meaning their output and productivity. This is because the engaged worker feels a sense of accomplishment in completing a task well, knowing that their actions will be appreciated and appropriately rewarded by their employer.

There is evidence to suggest that failure to properly engage employees may have a detrimental effect upon company growth. Studies have shown that absenteeism is 37% worse for organisations with disengaged workers, while there is a 4% increase in safety incidents within disengaged workplaces. Furthermore, it has been discovered that productivity plummets by 21% when workers are not properly engaged.

It’s clear, therefore, that proper employee engagement is vital to maintenance and growth of a business, and must be an integral part of your long-term strategy. Here is a brief guide to engaging your employees and securing the growth of your business.

 Do not confuse engagement with short-term happiness

You might offer unlimited holidays, free beer on Fridays and a host of other benefits designed to instil a relaxed, positive working culture. However, this will count for nothing unless your employees are properly engaged. As a result, is important to consider what will really make your employees feel more motivated and fulfilled, rather than hoping that flexible benefits will be enough to keep your staff feeling motivated and keen to improve.

Think CSR

Corporate social responsibility is the way forward, and is increasingly becoming the main way in which companies attract and retain new candidates. This is because the millennial generation are overwhelmingly preoccupied with CSR. 80% of a sample of 1,800 13-25 year olds claimed that their ideal workplace would be one which cares about how it impacts and contributes to society. The majority of this claimed they would refuse to work an ‘irresponsible’ organisation.

One way of improving your business’s CSR might be the introduction of ‘flex-days’ in which time could be devoted to helping out at local charities or projects within the wider community. Building your company’s social responsibility will be vital to harnessing the talented candidates needed for it to grow and thrive.

Make the most of positivity and reinforcement.

Psychologists claim that self-determination is vital for true employee engagement, meaning that staff must feel personally invested in the business in order to deliver maximum productivity and favourable results. How to instil a sense of self-determination in your staff? One way might be to encourage your employees to choose their own projects to work on. By allotting time each week for your staff to work on their own projects autonomously, you will allow them to feel increased pride in their work, and this will contribute to more employee engagement overall.

Also highly important is adequate support and feedback, which will allow your employees to feel that their results are being measured and dully rewarded, which in the long-term will aid staff retention.

Flexibility and Trust will allow your employees to work like adults

Fostering a culture of trust within your workplace is key to truly engaged employees. Employees who are trusted to work to a high standard without constant supervision will deliver optimum results. Employees who are chained to their desk and not trusted to work independently will have less motivation to prove their worth! Studies have proven that flexibility at work makes for increased productivity, whereas ridged ‘presenteeism’ stifles creativity. In short, accommodating the need for flexibility in your business will lead to genuine engagement throughout your organisation.

Women Remain Cut off From High-Paying Opportunities, Earn 35% Less than Male Counterparts

Tracey Eker speaks out on ongoing workplace discrimination

This week it was revealed that female bosses earn an average of 35% less than male colleagues at the same level. More than 40 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, it is clear prejudice persists in the UK workplace, and the extent of it is shocking.

CEO and founder Tracey Eker was asked to appear on STV Glasgow’s primetime news slot, in which she discussed the issue of women being squeezed out of their existing roles after returning from maternity leave, or excluded from high earning positions. She recalls the discrimination she faced after having her first child:

‘During my maternity leave with my first child I experienced some of the negativity women are faced with from employers.

This really dampened my time off and soured my whole entry back into the workforce. I was made to travel excessively as if to prove a point that I couldn’t do it all like I used to. That relationship quickly came to a close and I decided to stay home with my baby’

Tracey then began looking for part-time work, but was disappointed to discover a distinct lack of transparency if job advertisements, with many employers seemingly unwilling to be upfront about the availability of flexible working in their organisations.  A ‘lightbulb moment’ ensued, and Tracey got the idea to start her own online job site, designed specifically as a platform to connect skilled candidates who need or desire flexible working with the employers who need their skills:

‘Having children really showed me the lack of provision of flexible working within the workplace and highlighted the need for employers to be more upfront about the types of workplace flexibility they could/have on offer.  So in a way, my children are responsible for me coming up with Flexiworkforce in the first place!’

The idea of transparency in job advertisements surrounding the availability of flex-time, homeworking and other modes of flexibility is paramount to women finally  being able to break through the glass ceiling and break down the barrier of ‘presenteeism’.  It is clear that though employers preach diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities, these ideas are less easy for organisations to actually put into practice.

The message is clear- only when employers make flexible working accessible will women’s participation be truly representative, and their earnings equal to that of men.

 

9 Ways to Stay Sane while Job Hunting

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1. Make job hunting your job 

It’s common advice, but getting up and working like you would on a regular day may help you feel more focused and productive than you would if you stayed in bed until 1pm! Try to maintain a routine that feels normal for you. That involves getting out of the pyjamas before lunchtime!

2. Alternatively, limit your job hunting to a few hours here and there

While it is good to maintain a regular routine, devoting an entire day to job hunting may feel soul destroying when there are not too many jobs that you are interested in applying for. If you are in this situation, focus on quality, not quantity, and concentrate on getting an interview for the opportunities you really want rather than firing off CVs to every advertisement you see online.

 3. Create a bank of information about yourself

Many job applications involve answering questions set by the employer in order to test your skills, attitude and suitability for the role. However, the ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling of answering the same questions over and over again is enough to drive you mad! Keep a word document consisting of chunks of information that can easily be copied and pasted to form a cover letter. Similarly, Include answers to commonly recurring job application question to save you countless frustrating hours of typing.

4. Stay grounded (most of the time)

That means, spend the majority of your job hunting hours applying for jobs that you have a reasonable shot of getting an interview for. Aim for jobs that fit your skills and expertise, rather than applying for jobs that you are overqualified for.

5.Occasionally, shoot for the stars 

That being said, there really is no harm in sending out a maverick application for the job of your dreams! You might be underqualified right now, but look carefully at the candidate requirements as they may give you clues on how you can progress your career to eventually snag that dream job.

6. Keep a diary of any job you apply for

This is a great tip which will help you to stay on track with your jobsearch and take stock of every role you have applied for. This will be especially helpful when you are following up on opportunities you have applied for or been interviewed for.

 7. Give yourself credit where credit is due

Reward yourself for applying to new roles, especially when it involves stepping out of your comfort zone. Job hunting is hard, so don’t be down on yourself when you’re knocked back from a couple of opportunities.

8. Learn to deal with rejection in a positive way

A great way of dealing with rejection is to channel negative emotion into a positive outlet. Every time you get a rejection email, use the anger and frustration you feel to fuel positive action. This could mean firing out more applications, or altering your CV or cover letter to present your skills and expertise in the best possible light.

9. Remember that good news is just around the corner

It’s vital to always remember that you will not be unemployed forever! It really is only a matter of time until a new opportunity comes knocking. Though the wait can be frustrating, your efforts will eventually be worthwhile.