The way we work today has become more flexible – there is simply more choice for workers to decide how, where and when they undertake their work. New technologies, new ways of working, and more tailored work schedules are all putting pressure on organisations to find ways to stay competitive.
Working patterns are a great way to give your employees more time at home, reduce their stress, and improve the quality of their work. In other words, a better work-life balance. But how do you make it a win-win for your employees and your organisation? Keep reading to find out.
What are working patterns in the workforce?
Working patterns are the division of the standard time and the number of hours an employee works each day in a contractual work week.
They’re crucial for employers because they’re how companies can divide up an employee’s workload, which includes deciding how many hours they work each day, and in what order they perform their tasks.
This sort of calculation allows companies to not only ensure they compensate their employees fairly, but also avoid instances of overcompensation, which can affect their bottom line.
There are four different types of work patterns, depending on types of work:
- Part-time – working part-time or on a flexible basis, which is often a choice of the employee rather than set at a particular point in time.
- Flexible working – working flexibly, with some hours set and others left to choose, including when and where the work is carried out.
- Job sharing – one job being shared between two employees part-time. It requires close cooperation between two people who share responsibility for their job with each other.
- Compressed hours – working longer hours but fewer days. Such a work pattern requires employees to work full-time (i.e. 40 hours a week) within perhaps 3 to 4 days instead of the usual 5 to 6 days.
Although these are the standard work patterns followed across the world, there can be country-specific or culture-specific work patterns, as well.
For instance, in Australia, a work pattern called “casual conversion” allows casual employees to request part-time or full-time work if they meet certain criteria. By definition, “a person is a casual employee if they accept an offer for a job from an employer knowing that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work.”
Casual employees with a solid track record of working their contractual shifts or days may be eligible to seek part-time or full-time employment with their organisation. If you work with casual employees, Humanforce’s Time & Attendance feature (and the overall HR Automation tool) can come in handy for getting an overview of such employees’ work patterns as well as prevent you from making costly recruitment errors.
How work patterns impact rosters
As a manager, you want to make sure that your employees are able to complete their tasks and deliver on commitments. If you have flexible working and diverse work patterns within your organisation, it can be challenging to design a roster that will accommodate every employee and justify the use of your resources.
To help manage this complexity, using an online scheduling system can help you design an efficient roster suitable for different work patterns while allowing employees to have a say in their own shifts and even have access to time-bound resources (if any).
Types of rosters you can create to accommodate various work patterns include:
- Two shift rosters – one group works in the morning, the other in the evening (e.g. within IT companies).
- Staggered rosters – a schedule that requires employees to work at different times of the day so there’s always staff availability (e.g. within a restaurant business).
- DuPont shift rosters – shifts are divided in four across a four-week period and each shift requires the employees to work for four consecutive days followed by three days off. (e.g. within the healthcare sector).
- Evening shift rosters – where shifts are set during the evening and night period due to evening opening or operating hours (e.g. within the casino industry or a taxi service).
These are just a few rosters commonly used by organisations. With Humanforce, you can create multiple flexible rosters, depending on your business’s requirements.
The challenges of outdated work patterns
Sweden was one of the first countries that challenged current working practices and began implementing a six-hour workday instead. “I think the eight-hour workday is not as effective as one would think,” said Linus Feldt, CEO of Filimundus. “To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge.”
Along with impacting employees’ family life, this focus issue is one of the biggest drawbacks of relying on the traditional eight-hour workday. Flexible scheduling or flexitime, on the other hand, actually allows employees to be more productive and happier at work. Not only does it increase your employee retention rates, it also allows you to optimise your business hours efficiently.
The influence of technology in the workforce
Automation is big business. And it is one of the most important trends in HR technology today. Not only can it help you get more done with fewer resources, it can also improve accuracy in daily workforce management tasks.
Some HR automation benefits include:
- Increased efficiency – HR automation reduces the time spent on scheduling, payroll processing, and overall workforce management activities, thereby reducing costs and increasing productivity.
- Increased employee satisfaction – HR tech is at the centre of all operations, which means everyone has access to it. Employee satisfaction increases when people have access to their own personal information at their fingertips, which makes them more aware of their rights and responsibilities and increases trust in the organisation.
- Elimination of errors – Automation eliminates human errors when the technology performs tasks on your behalf.
- Saving time – Smart HR tech saves time by automating repetitive tasks that would otherwise be performed manually. It also allows you to spend more time on higher value activities like interviewing candidates or training new employees.
- Improved communication – Instead of sending several emails or messages, the technology allows you to send scheduling notifications to all your teams through a central platform, which reduces confusion and doubts among employees.
Meeting changing demographics and changing expectations
According to a recent survey, “44% of millennials do not expect to stay in a job for longer than two years, and only 16% expect to still be in the same job a decade from now”.
Today, flexible workers aren’t just focused on earning a paycheck. They want to do purposeful work, which can add meaning to their own lives. Both Gen Y and Gen Z workers also want to maintain a healthy work-life balance – something the rigid eight-hour workday doesn’t offer. These cultural changes in work patterns are significant as a driving force for modern scheduling and rostering.
The importance of having the correct working pattern for your employees
When it comes to the working pattern of employees, it’s important to ensure they are not overworked and stressed. The right balance between work and life can help in improving productivity as well as employee satisfaction.
For companies, getting this balance right means benefitting from having employees who are both more productive in terms of their hourly output, and happier in their current role, which can lead to higher retention rates. Considered in this light, the right working patterns are a major win-win for both your organisation and your employees.
What does a working pattern look like in today’s workforce?
Today’s workforces can thrive with a flexible working pattern, whether they are full-time or part-time workers. Flexible working patterns could mean “working from home, working compressed hours, term-time hours, part-time or flexi-time working”. Workplaces can benefit from factoring in flexible work patterns and potentially restructuring shifts according to employee preferences.
Modern working patterns are also empowering for people belonging to different socio-economic backgrounds, which can help establish a level playing field for all types of workers.
As one example, the eight-hour workday can leave little room for employees to pursue other personal priorities besides work throughout the week. This is one of the reasons that prevent people from low-income backgrounds or marginalised communities from improving their socio-economic status. However, more flexible working patterns can enable people to undertake concurrent side projects (e.g. further education), which can have an immeasurable and positive impact on their future – not to mention on the employer itself.
How to ensure working patterns are embraced by employees
Employees who find it difficult to embrace new work patterns for their work commitments are often the first to leave a company. If you want your employees to be productive and effective, here are some tips to get them on board:
- Share examples of how well the working patterns in question are working for other companies
- Have a two-way, open dialogue with your employees
- Make sure everyone understands what is expected of them and what they can expect from the organisation
- Most importantly, get management on board and ask them to normalise and champion new working patterns.
If you want to build a resilient workforce, we suggest learning more about employment trends, what your employees expect from you, which direction the research is pointing toward, and gaining an understanding of cultural changes in the workplace.
Armed with this knowledge, you can design win-win working patterns for your employees and your organisation using automated HR tech.
Humanforce is a leading provider of shift-based workforce management solutions that simplify onboarding, scheduling, time and attendance, employee engagement, and communication. Customers in more than 23 countries use Humanforce to optimise costs, realise compliance confidence, empower their team, and drive growth. Humanforce was founded in Sydney in 2002, and today has offices across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK.