Organisational Flexibility

Organisational Flexibility

When looking at the subject of organisational structures, organisational flexibility can be a key issue as businesses seek to adapt to changing market conditions..

What is flexibility?

In modern business environments there has been an increasing trend towards workforce flexibility. This can include

  • Functional flexibility so employees can be redeployed to other tasks if necessary - e.g. through multi-skilling
  • Numerical flexibility to adjust the number of employees to match fluctuations in demand
  • Temporal flexibility to match employees' work patterns with demand - e.g. through having some workers "on call".

One way for achieving numerical flexibility is described by Handy's shamrock

  • core employees who have critical and scarce skills - they deliver the core competencies of the firm. They receive good promotion, security and status prospects relative to others and are often managers, team leaders, professional staff, skilled technicians and skilled employees.

    These workers are becoming increasing less dominant.

  • Interface workers (flexible labour force) are low skilled and form a buffer in relation to fluctuations in demand. These include temporary, part-time, seasonal and standby staff.
  • Suppliers (contractual fringe) such as contractors, temporary and self-employed staff with the general skills needed. Many are created by contracting out, a process where the firm trims headcounts and then re-employs them as consultants on more flexible hours.

Handy also considered adding "customers" as a fourth leaf because in many service organisations customers are asked to do some of the work(e.g. filling in forms, self-service). However, he decided to exclude them as they are not paid by the organisation and so cannot be considered part of the formal structure.

Created at 6/20/2012 3:21 PM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
Last modified at 10/9/2013 4:19 PM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London

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flexibility;Handy's shamrock;shamrock

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