Labor Flexibility within the Dutch elderly care, homecare and maternity care: Adapting to a changing environment

Homan, Lennart (2010) Labor Flexibility within the Dutch elderly care, homecare and maternity care: Adapting to a changing environment.

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Abstract:The last decade organizations within the Dutch elderly care, homecare and maternity care have dealt with some severe changes within the fields of legislation, demography, economy, technology and social-cultural, overthrowing the traditional concepts and processes within these sectors, and urging the need for new concepts of care delivery. This also has changed the way organizations needed to deal with labor, especially on how flexible organizations deal with this factor. The concept of labor flexibility itself is not new and is also present within these sectors for some decades. The so called flexible firm is already a well known institution within organizational theories. Especially from the perspective of human resource management, a lot has been said and written about flexibility, especially regarding the personnel function it can obtain. Several forms of labor flexibility have been distinguished, which are often qualified as flexibility through contract, time and function. This research will focus on the several forms of labor flexibility within the elderly care, homecare and maternity care within The Netherlands, what the drivers for these forms of labor flexibility are, and how these forms effect the organizations, their employees and their clients. Being a part of a covering research regarding the balance between employee and operations management regarding employment contracts and working hours has structured the way this research should be conducted. Through a meta-analysis of nine representative organizations, who functioned as case-studies within this research, valid data has been collected and analyzed in order to find an answer towards the underlying research question. How is labor flexibility currently applied within different cure, care homecare and maternity care organizations, (related to the demands, several forms and effects of labor flexibility), and how could they possibly be improved with a better balance between employees and operational management as a result? FINDINGS This research has shown that the implementation of small scale care concepts, client orientated approaches and a declining labor market on the one hand and a growing consumer market on the other hand, have been found to be the main drivers for the increased importance of labor flexibility forms. The adaption of these forms can be distinguished mainly throughout three responsible employee groups, those with small contracts, large contracts and those who work through flex pools, and can be classified within a timeframe of short term labor flexibility and long term labor flexibility. Variations occur amongst the three sectors, though within these sectors similarities are present regarding the required amount of flexible personnel on the short and long term. An overall trend that occurs is that absenteeism is the main initiator of situations in which labor flexibility forms need to be used, whilst fluctuations in demand are in most cases very predictable. Effects of labor flexibility can be mainly classified within the field of flexibility and irregular needs from both the organization and its employees on one side and their need for security and predictability on the other. It is therefore important for organizations to become more productive and client orientated in which all employee and client perspectives are weighted equally in order to stabilize and increase the attractiveness of the sector and the satisfaction experienced by client and employees. 7 CONCLUSIONS All of the above sums up to some of the main conclusions of this research. These conclusions need to be seen in the light of the fact that these organizations need to become more productive and client orientated on a social innovative way in which all employee perspectives are weighted equally in order to stabilize and increase the attractiveness of the sector. Labor flexibility, when implemented effectively and structured, can play a vital role in obtaining and increasing the attractiveness of this sector for both employees and clients. Therefore, the balance between operational management and employees can be improved or maintained, when organizations integrate several forms of labor flexibility in which all employees are weighted equally. This means that small contracts, large contracts and flex pools need to be integrated in order to avoid one sided pressure, since such an approach can create a situation of unbalance. One other important conclusions can also be seen as one of the major recommendations for the EHM branch and states that organizations can obtain the required amount of labor flexibility by creating a mix of instruments, instead of relying on just one or a few instruments. This mix should consist out of the external deployment of flex workers, flexible working hours, internal flex pools and on-call employees, overtime, multi-skilling and location flexibility, which implicates that all of these instruments need to be integrated in order to avoid one sided pressure, since such an approach can create a situation of unbalance. RECOMMENDATIONS The main recommendation paradoxically implicates that labor flexibility itself does not necessarily need to come from employees alone. Organizations, and the sector overall, need to be aware that the way they organize work itself and the internal structure of their organization also influences the way labor flexibility can be adopted and perceived. Furthermore, it is of utmost importance that organizations within the EHM have a clear overview regarding the capacity they need to obtain the amount of labor flexibility that is required, both on the short and long term. In order to streamline this process it is vital to link planning and formation mechanics together, to obtain a combination of decentralized planning and rostering and the centralized overview which is needed for organizations to adjust towards over and under capacity throughout their organization. As mentioned above it remains vital for organizations to keep a central overview regarding their decentralized planning and rostering units. On the long term the organization needs to centrally keep an eye out for fluctuations on both the labor and consumer market, in order to adjust their formation when needed, though a lot of these fluctuations can also be countered by the decentralized units. Overall, the above points illustrate the need for decentralization when dealing with labor flexibility on the short term, whilst a combination between centralization and decentralization is needed when dealing with labor flexibility on the long term. Overall it is hard to define one successful strategy for each of the three sectors on how to deal with labor flexibility, though the above recommendations are some of the basic conditions each organizations has to obtain in order to remain productive and effective. It also contributes towards the attractiveness of the organizations within these sectors. This research has furthermore shown that a lot of possibilities reside within this branch for further research. It is also very clear that the Dutch elderly care, homecare and maternity care sector can improve the way how to effectively deal with labor flexibility mechanics which will lead to a maximization of benefits for the organizations, their employees and their clients.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/60031
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