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Disentangling competing narratives in relation to employers’ implementation of older workers’ requests for flexible working’

Disentangling competing narratives in relation to employers’ implementation of older workers’ requests for flexible working’
Disentangling competing narratives in relation to employers’ implementation of older workers’ requests for flexible working’
This paper draws upon qualitative research on employers’ perspectives on flexible working in later life. This focused on the organisational challenges presented in implementing post-2014 right-to-request applications for different kinds of flexible working arrangements, and reflecting the different motivations driving older workers to pursue new working practices. The paper focuses on the recurrent tension between flexible work desired or needed by older workers, and flexible work as a managerial tool to be deployed for economic and organisational gain. Employers are variously interpreting flexible work driven by business needs, in contrast to those adopting a case-by-case approach to requests. What is missing from this stage is a longer-term vision of the shift to a more flexible workforce underpinned by new organisational forms and types of work, and the resources it offers for retaining older workers and managing an ageing workforce. The pockets of employer support for flexible work identified in the research were polarised between organisations displaying an equal opportunities-based stimulus, and a those driven by a business-case, dynamic workforce narrative, with sectoral differences impacting on these. In this scenario, the space for individual workers to negotiate flexible working on anything other than a needs basis becomes squeezed, precarious and privileged. The paper unpicks the different discourses, interests and contradictions operating around flexible work at the macro, organisational and individual levels, including how these different assumptions become incorporated into working practices and opportunities, and engages with the consequences of failing to reconcile employer-employee needs.
Parry, Jane
c7061194-16cb-434e-bf05-914623cfcc63
Parry, Jane
c7061194-16cb-434e-bf05-914623cfcc63

Parry, Jane (2017) Disentangling competing narratives in relation to employers’ implementation of older workers’ requests for flexible working’. British Sociological Association Annual Conference, England, United Kingdom.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

This paper draws upon qualitative research on employers’ perspectives on flexible working in later life. This focused on the organisational challenges presented in implementing post-2014 right-to-request applications for different kinds of flexible working arrangements, and reflecting the different motivations driving older workers to pursue new working practices. The paper focuses on the recurrent tension between flexible work desired or needed by older workers, and flexible work as a managerial tool to be deployed for economic and organisational gain. Employers are variously interpreting flexible work driven by business needs, in contrast to those adopting a case-by-case approach to requests. What is missing from this stage is a longer-term vision of the shift to a more flexible workforce underpinned by new organisational forms and types of work, and the resources it offers for retaining older workers and managing an ageing workforce. The pockets of employer support for flexible work identified in the research were polarised between organisations displaying an equal opportunities-based stimulus, and a those driven by a business-case, dynamic workforce narrative, with sectoral differences impacting on these. In this scenario, the space for individual workers to negotiate flexible working on anything other than a needs basis becomes squeezed, precarious and privileged. The paper unpicks the different discourses, interests and contradictions operating around flexible work at the macro, organisational and individual levels, including how these different assumptions become incorporated into working practices and opportunities, and engages with the consequences of failing to reconcile employer-employee needs.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 30 November 2016
Published date: 6 April 2017
Venue - Dates: British Sociological Association Annual Conference, England, United Kingdom, 2011-03-31
Organisations: Gerontology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 410969
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/410969
PURE UUID: 1dbafca8-d5e4-4353-9a9d-fea7c9c4dd37
ORCID for Jane Parry: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7101-2517

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 12 Jun 2017 16:31
Last modified: 12 Dec 2021 03:47

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