Why flexibility in HR management pays

The speed with which the printing industry adopts new technology continually alters the qualifications and skills that printing companies require in their staff. As such, hiring qualified staff is often a great human resources challenge, as the definition of “qualified” can seemingly change from day to day. Being flexible in your hiring practices, if done knowledgeably, is one way to meet the challenge of your business’s changing technical needs. 

Flexible hiring criteria
We will first discuss only the relatively rare cases where a person with directly related qualifications for a position can’t be found.  At PrintLink, we can usually provide well– qualified candidates for each job we fill.  But it is occasionally necessary for us to encourage hiring managers to consider an alternative plan.

For instance, while the series of steps in print production workflow remains essentially unchanged, there is always an array of new tools to facilitate its every stage. And because the technology tools are both numerous and relatively new, there may not be a lot of people available who have direct experience with the specific tool one of our clients is using.  Although hiring managers of course prefer to attract people with directly related experience from the outset, it is not always possible to do so.

In such cases, we suggest that hiring managers can create some flexibility for themselves by implementing training programs. They should audit their current talent pool, assess their future staffing needs, then determine a strategic plan of execution that fits their budget. And when hiring, managers should select people who have the interest, aptitude, and motivation to participate in their company’s employee development program.

As another example, many companies come to us looking for supervisors and managers who already possess a number of years of like experience. But the employees themselves are usually seeking career advancement unavailable in their current positions. Unless they have specific issues with their employer or their jobs are at risk, employees are often reluctant to make a lateral move.

Similarly, employers may hold out indefinitely for an elusive “perfect” candidate, when, if they immediately hired a candidate requiring some training instead, they would quickly realize a return on their investment. By exercising some flexibility, hiring managers may just find a gem who is waiting for a chance to shine. Good candidates are often willing to make a long–term commitment to companies who recognize their potential and invest in their career development.

Flexible work arrangements
It is also increasingly necessary for companies to exercise flexibility in addressing the impending problem of large–scale retirement. Many organizations in our own and other industries offer phased retirement programs in which older employees work fewer hours as they approach retirement. You can maximize the value of such programs by assigning some training and mentoring activities to retirees. While younger staff may be better versed in today’s technology, the older employees have a solid background in the industry to pass along, not to mention their experience with your company and clients.

Other flexible staffing arrangements—ones that address not only the shrinking workforce, but also everyone’s need to balance work and home life—include job sharing, flex hours, vacation buying and selling, paid and unpaid sabbaticals, elder–care support, wellness accounts, unpaid time off for charitable work, and assistance with home technology purchases.

Additionally, many companies offer employees the option of working from home. While a work–from–home scenario won’t succeed for all aspects of print workflow, it can work for a surprising number of job functions. Sales is the most obvious, but some of the front–end workflow–management jobs could be facilitated off–site as well. While we don’t advocate implementing full–time remote access, working from home for a percentage of each week is a creative way to provide more coverage plus a benefit to staff.

Flexible compensation packages
Compensation packages are another area where flexibility pays off.  Since compensation is not just about salary, employers and employees who understand their flexible options better their chances of striking a mutually satisfying and profitable arrangement.

The potential “extras” may include company–paid benefits, capital accumulation plans, pension plans, stock options, bonuses and incentives, education allowances, personal days off, extended holiday time, a company car or car allowance, fitness programs, moving allowances, and company–paid social activities.

Next month’s column will discuss how flexibility can escalate your company’s sales and help aspiring employees navigate their own career path to success.     

Victoria Gaitskell is a placement specialist with PrintLink, a professional placement firm for the graphic communications industry. T: 1.877.413.2600 E: vgaitskell@printlink.com

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