Time to ditch the 9-5 mindset for good
Image Credit: Gulf News

I’m willing to bet that the idea of a 9-5 work day no longer exists in today’s corporate world. Bold?

Not really. Consider the influx of millennials now making up the workforce, gradually phasing out the previous generation and bringing about change at every level. The idea that we could commit ourselves to something as structured as a set time to start and end our day at work seems outdated, especially considering the 24x7 lifestyle we now live.

Convention isn’t the order of the day anymore. Both employers and employees don’t want to be shackled with dictating how and when work should take place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting it’s a free-for-all when it comes to the workplace; rather it’s an understanding between both sides that hinges on trust.

Each respects the other in terms of role and responsibility, acknowledging that as long as the job is done, employees can enjoy a certain degree of autonomy.

This region is particularly forward-thinking when it comes to shaking up corporate agility, putting initiatives in place to encourage a productive, yet more autonomous, working environment, which benefits both the employee and employer alike. As a result, we’re seeing employee motivations change, spurred on by gaining more responsibility in the workplace and an ambition to contribute to company culture in a meaningful way.

Creating a working environment that promotes ideas and inclusivity now tops the list for candidates looking to break into their ideal role. Employers can’t afford to ignore how crucial a component this is to their hiring strategy.

Get creative with incentives, even for off-time

Introducing schemes like unlimited leave go a long way in showing commitment and a certain flexibility on the employers part, further underscoring how priorities have shifted. We’re now more concerned with output over the amount of hours worked.

Cast your mind back to a time when you had to “clock in and out” as a way to prove your reliability and, to an extent, worth. By today’s standards this seems almost archaic, and more tellingly, out of step with the way the rest of the corporate world is evolving.

Being adaptable is key given the fluidity of our environment today. Our personal and professional lives do overlap, which is why employers are making strides to change how employees view their everyday work setting.

In the battle to find and retain top talent, there needs to be an additional offering that resonates with candidates on a broader level, beyond monetary gain. Creating an atmosphere that celebrates teamwork, yet challenges employees on an individual level is a big part of this.

So too is putting milestones in place that drive forward results, as opposed to measuring competency against the hours worked.

Instead, our efforts should go into optimising time effectively, with everyone working towards a common goal. In turn, this should instill a sense of pride and a feeling of worth that employees are contributing to the overall needs of the business, and that in itself is a powerful motivator to not only enhance output but to encourage long-term retention as well.

The UAE is well placed geographically to attract talent from both Europe and Asia, and has proven a dominant force in getting people to the region and nurturing their burgeoning skillset. Yet employers can no longer afford to rely on this attraction alone - today they need to think about how to give their workplaces a competitive edge.

The motivation behind doing work is changing

To compete for the top applicants, employers need to consider candidates’ different motivations, skillsets and goals, considering where best to place them within the company and what their pathway to progression will look like.

Just as the 9-5 way of working has gone out the window, so too has the “job for life” mentality. Employees now want experiences that can broaden their outlook, collecting and mastering new skills as they go.

This is as a result of an evolving work model; a shift from corporate rigidity to one of informal fluidity, with a work setting that feels more like a lifestyle than a job. Employees want mentorship, guidance and a chance to make a positive impact on the business, which is why the workplace environment is so important.

If they are able to connect what they do to who they are, regardless of their title, the outcome is likely to be more positive - think reduced turnover and increased productivity.

Instead of carving out a one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment, we need to look at how we can make the role, culture and environment desirable, attuned to deliver on the needs of the people who can ultimately make or break a business.

And, as with millenials before them, when Gen Z begin to filter into the workforce, a new set of ideals and values will reshape the corporate environment once again. In statistics compiled by The World Economic Forum, 75 per cent of those surveyed wanted to have multiple roles within an organisation, underscoring the current trend for movement horizontally rather than just up the chain of command. They also listed an “empowering work culture” and “potential for career growth” as the two most important factors in a job, coupled with ensuring financial security, meaning they are well placed to work hard in order to make these aspirations a reality.

In the end, this all circles back to how we see value today, both from an employer and employee perspective. What’s clear is that times are changing and what worked in the past is no longer a guarantee of success.

As the age of authority, complete with top-down corporate structure wanes in favor of a more autonomous and adaptable working landscape, the onus is on businesses to ensure they react quickly and effectively. After all, rockstar teams aren’t born, they are made, shaped by experience and environment - make sure your company offers both.

Sarah Jones is founder and CEO of Sprii.com.