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Right now we find ourselves at a significant juncture when it comes to our work, our people, and our families, all of which affects the way we need to consider people strategy for the next phase of organisational growth. If there is one positive thing that Covid-19 has done for HR strategy, it is that it has made the need to look at the shifting dynamics of family and the workforce even more important, and even more pressing.

Modern day parenting and work…
Parents and carers make up 72% of the UK’s workforce, and yet there are relatively few pro-active conversations around the shifting needs for modern day parenting and how workplaces are equipping themselves to get the very best from their parent and carer populations.

…meets the Rise of the Gen Z
At the same time, as part of the shifting needs of modern day families, we are seeing the emergence of more Gen Z’s into the workforce, which is bringing a whole new level of thinking to the world of work that we need to consider. Amongst other things, Gen Z’s are true digital nomads. While parents may dream of being a digital nomad, Gen Z’s are much more attuned to actually taking action here!   Dig a little deeper and there is much in common across both groups, which should be at the core of how we now plan for the years ahead:

Flexible working becomes mainstream
First wave Millennial Parents and late Gen Y’s before them will be remembered for pioneering flexible working and breaking down traditional mindsets and beliefs that a flexible workforce is a non-productive one.  We have seen over the last few weeks and months of lockdown that the very opposite is true. Families are no longer a one size fits all – they come in an array of shapes and sizes, with more and more fathers taking an equal role in day to day parenting.   

From our own research with over 2000 Millennial fathers last year, we found that a third of Millennial Dads had left their jobs in order to find roles that would satisfy their need to balance both work and new family commitments, with another third actively looking in order to find the right work/parental balance.

That alone should set alarm bells ringing for HR Directors in the retention of a part of their key talent. And with Covid-19 forcing a number of organisations into more flexible ways of working, a number of senior leaders will have experienced first hand just how much can be done, in anything but ideal remote working. This should sharpen the mind for what else can be done to achieve true flexible working going forward.

Technology has been the great enabler here for many, and with Gen Z’s expecting more flexible ways of working – rather than hoping for it as is true for the generation before –  perhaps we should be asking ourselves not should we, but how can we deliver better flexible working.

Your starter for ten questions on flexible working:

  • What does flexible working mean for your teams?
  • How do we keep in touch but ensure we’re not checking in for no authentic reason?
  • Can we be flexible in how we think about office spaces as a whole?

Gender & Equality
There has been a lot of progress around gender equality in the last few years. We haven’t reached the end of the story in any way shape of form. But in fact what we are seeing now is the emergence of just how far Gender Equality can have an impact.

This is an area that has, rightly, started with a focus on women and mums at work but as family dynamics shift, and nearly 9 in 10 new dads claiming to be equally involved in day to day parenting, how we shake off any pre-conceptions about men and work will become just as important.

There is something of an irony that at a time when people are putting more thought into unique gifts for dad, that there isn’t the same level of thought for dads at work.

What makes dads at work unique is that men as a whole have different emotional language at work – and the modern day tension of fighting off traditional stoicism for modern day openness is one that many still grapple with. However it doesn’t mean the need isn’t there – in fact quite the opposite.

Future HR Strategy needs to start thinking about prevention rather than cure. How we create equality for all – beyond just gender – will be paramount.

Your starter for ten questions on gender equality:

  • How well do you really know what is happening with the dads in your workforce? And what of the other key groups? This is an area that occupies a lot of our time at DaddiLife.
  • How can you show how true gender equality can be a competitive advantage and not just a tick box?

Collaboration and Innovation
We do our best work, when we’re creating the right environments for people to thrive. That’s a common attitude across HR leadership. And while that is true, it is only half of the story.

We do our best work, when we’re with the best people. We’ve challenged the word ‘with’ in more recent times, but collaboration is the key enabler of true productivity in a digital and growth age.

How we assess new ideas and new innovation should also be based around how our cultures are set up for true collaboration. This isn’t about technology – it’s about making sure everyone has a role in shaping success. More than ever, parents and the emerging new talent of Gen Z’s will be expecting this – in fact the difference between having a genuinely collaborative culture or not will partly determine how innovative your teams and organisations will be in the years ahead.

Your starter for ten questions on collaboration:

  • How do you measure collaboration?
  • How do you ensure everyone has a clear opportunity to be involved where appropriate?

We are living through a time of great upheaval – both personally and professionally.  The issues I have outlined above will help to shape the future of work and how we live our lives in a world where the role of family and work/life balance has been brought sharply into focus in a way in which it has never been before.  I hope we can grasp this opportunity to make meaningful and lasting change and embrace a truly flexible workforce.

Han Son Lee, Founder of Daddilife

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