HR Into I&O: Working 9 Till 5, What A Way To Make A Living? – Employee Contracts

Firstly, let me explain: I am not really a fan of Dolly Parton but I heard this song last night and this got me thinking further about my I&O FLB exclusive report on ‘Tomorrow’s I&O Leaders Require An Equal Blend Of Technology And Business Acumen, which addresses changing skills and recruitment practices. Specifically I asked myself:

“Do current I&O contracts of employment really support agile, customer centric IT operations?”

Now I know the majority of I&O professionals have never lived Dolly’s dream of ‘working 9 Till 5’ anyway but with the fast pace of technology innovation and demands by the business, will we see a time when I&O leaders ring the bell on current formal contracts of employment?

I also take into consideration that a signed employment contract is a legal requirement for a number of reasons but can I&O executives continue to state a set number of working hours, e.g., “you will work x hours per week” as a requirement? I am not advocating flexi-time contracts here but with I&O moving to customer-centric deliverables does this mean that I&O leaders need to align contracts of employment to specific customer I&O services/deliverables and take into account the social lives of their employees?

In this way, the contract of employment would have realistic, customer-focused, metric-measured objectives and the employee would be able to work whatever hours, times, and days they want to achieve these in line with customer requirements. For this to work and to not cause anarchy then the services, deliverables, and proactive measurement systems must be in place and subject to review, to accommodate changing customer/employee needs and service innovation.

Some positives of such an approach are that from a business point of view. I&O resource costs become tuned to the requirements of the end customer(s) with employment contracts being potentially fixed term unless the employee has objectives linked to key I&O services. From the employee perspective, the benefits would be that they would be allowed more freedom to better organize their potentially complex social life (family, friends) around their work deliverables. No more set number of days for vacation – just take as many as you need and what your stage of life requires.

Some of the negatives, apart from being a major transition (culture, process and technology), would be that without proper IT automation tools and knowledge management processes there is a danger that it could be too easy for skills and knowledge to transfer to a competitor. This would mean that employment law would need to change also to protect and govern this agile employment practice. Also, with such an employment practice there is a danger, if implemented from purely a cost centric perspective that personal development and training would not be taken into consideration.

It could be said that some I&O organizations are already, slowly, moving toward this type of operation with increased focus on contractor recruitment but this current model tends to be more of a tactical rather than a strategic policy to I&O service delivery.

For this model to really work then probably the greatest hurdle would be simply 'trust.'
Could you as an I&O leader trust your team and colleagues to perform in such an agile employment structure?

Hopefully I am not talking nonsense, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts about this? Has anybody got any practical examples of this movement already happening in organizations?