Monday, October 29, 2012

HRs Job is Finding a Way to Say YES

Saying yes to both the employee and the employer is the role in terms of HR when it comes to workplace flexibility. Understanding that flexibility is not just good for the employee is not only HRs job but managements job as well. These are the overall messages I heard over and over again in the sessions at the SHRM #Workplace12 conference in partnership with FWI (Family Work Institute. Which by the way, FWI has been doing this research and encouraging workplace flexibility for over thirty years and is documented in the book just produced (pictured to left) called Workflex The Essential Guide to Effective and Flexible Workplaces.The book is so popular that it is already temporarily sold out.  That to me is an impressive statement since it was just released.

The point is employers don't really have a choice to ignore something that has been an issue, concern, career threat for so long. I know personally have been dealing with this issue for over 20 years not only in my own life but also in the lives of the talented employees I have seen quit the traditional workforce just to maintain balance in their life. A couple of years ago I wrote a post on the women of hr blog site about the last 10 years of my career having been "the perfect 10" because I had balance. Unfortunately, like the employees I did exit interviews for I had to start my own business to do so.

The sessions last week provided employers ideas on how to make flexibility possible in light of the tremendous constraints the antiquated employment laws put upon on us. Previously, I never would have advised an employer to try flexibility outside the office with nonexempt employees but after hearing a story at lunch about how one company ran a call center from employees homes successfully and within the constraints of the current laws, I have changed my paradigm. I also agreed previously that it would be difficult to implement flexibility on a manufacturing setting or in the medical field, but after hearing Lisa Horn moderate a panel with two Sloan Award winners, I have again changed my thinking. If you see the pattern here, it's all about awareness. Learning from others what can be done and what has not worked tends to help others think outside the box.

The books and toolkit now available which were released at this conference will help a whole new shift and interest increase awareness and make the move towards a more flexible workplace. The benefits will help increase productivity, engagement, retention in organizations because employees will be less worried about what they are not doing at home.

Management and HR now have tools available to make this happen but it really can't happen unless it become part of the culture of the organization. Workflex like diversity is not an event it is a way of life. Competence comes with education.

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