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Flex-Ability: The necessity for employees, enterprises and the employment market


The ability to rapidly adjust operating processes to ever-changing market conditions is the crucial competitive edge for businesses today. To survive in an ever-changing environment, the enterprise of tomorrow must have the ability to be independent, quick, efficient, sufficient, and most of all, be results-orientated to fit into determining factors or to operate flexibly.

A boom, for example, often promotes the automation of manufacturing which has dramatic results and puts a strain on liquidity if expected higher levels of utilization actually decrease. On the other hand, too little growth potential can lead to the inability of satisfactorily processing that long-desired large order due to the inability to meet deadlines, or because of the lack of necessary machinery, or the inability to set up personnel capacities.

However, economic cycles, changes in economic and political paradigms, or demands that increase on a seasonal basis, are not the only factors that increase the necessity for flexibility. Today, much of our work life appears to underlie deregulation rather than regulation (i.e., open collective contracts). Employability (occupational ability) must repeatedly be newly acquired. New structures in organisations are becoming more level and the remuneration systems define a career where division, leadership and project careers are on equal footing. Customers tend to inquire on short notice and expect instant delivery, which leads to the need to have flexible and suitable human capital.

Flex-Ability as a Management Approach

In order to satisfy these requirements a toolbox was compiled which points out the approaches and models to modern flexibility management. In the demonstration of this management approach, it is assumed that each organization has a certain level of actual flexibility. Each enterprise is thus a flexible enterprise. The goal is to bring a differentiated flexibility level to an enterprise through selective measures.

Some of the contents from this toolbox are presented here in part:

Flex Organization

Flexibility leeway for different organization forms - functional organization, divisional organization and matrix organization – is offered here. Additionally, the creative potential of project organizations (per se flexible) is addressed in detail. The development of more flexible procedures in businesses as well as outsourcing and its special forms of cooperation and pooling of services round this area off.

Flex Skilling

Flex Skilling guides the expected future specifications of employees and management-level personnel, how one can reach them, and what portion of their jobs contribute to the connecting framework of education and training. It deals more closely with the topics of multi-qualification, the ascertainment of a target-group’s educational needs, the development of new functions and career profiles in businesses as well as the creation of basic favourable learning conditions, in order to finally support and accelerate a flexible employment pool in the company.

Flex Time

Flex time deals with the variants and margins of organising work schedules. Flexible work schedule formats, e.g. annual work schedules and a fluctuation margin model as well as making more flexible possibilities in shift models are presented, and the chances and risks are thereby identified. Furthermore, the concepts of flexitime, part-time work as well as sabbaticals are better defined.

Flex Workforce

Flex Workforce demonstrates how businesses can react to additional or reduced personnel needs and represents flexible opportunities for employment pools for key employees and outsourced personnel. The hiring of key employees can become more flexible through in-company rotation concepts. Outsourced personnel are, however, made up of employees whose affiliation to the company is temporary, for example through employee leasing, employees on a project basis, interim managers, or workers from an employment pool.

Flex-Ability contains a central theme dealing with the balance of interests between employer and employee, whether it’s regarding work scheduling models, payment structures, the management of services; questions about core and outsourced manpower, and its relation to employment contract models, the process of employee cutbacks, or the application of operative instruments in labour market policy on the interface of the organised labour market.

In all of these questions, it is necessary to define expectations, regulations and obligations and a balance of interest between jobs and capital.

(source: Flex Ability, Havranek Christian, Linde Publishing/Linde Verlag)

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