When Work Works rolled into the Pacific Northwest last week, and here’s a log of Lisa Horn’s trip across Oregon …

Day 1

I’m covering 400 miles in 48 hours here in Oregon to talk about workplace flexibility, including four chapter presentations and two panel discussions with Sloan Workflex Award winners!

First stop, the Linn County Fair & Expo Center in Albany.  Thanks to the Mid-Willamette Human Resource Association (MHRA), I was added to the agenda for the Oregon Employer Council Annual Conference.  I arrived in time to catch the previous speaker, none other than Oregon State University Head Basketball Coach Craig Robinson, brother to First Lady Michelle Obama!


I enjoyed Coach Robinson’s talk about refocusing student athletes on academics and preparing them for life after the game.  His story of testing the “selfishness” of his future brother-in-law on the basketball court was definitely a crowd pleaser!

Coach Robinson was a tough act to follow.  But with the help of MHRA’s monster cookies, which gave me and the HR professionals a “flex” boost, we were off to discuss workflex.

After saying goodbye to my new MHRA friends, I was headed to the Creekside Country Club to visit the Salem Human Resources Management Association (SHRMA), where I received an enthusiastic welcome from the SHRMA volunteer leaders. The venue for the meeting was beautiful, as the sun was illuminating the golf course, showing off the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Following my presentation, I had the pleasure of facilitating a discussion with two Oregon winners of the 2011 Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility  — Elaine Wells, executive director of Ride Connection, and Jason Graham-Nye, CEO of gDiapers.

Both Elaine and Jason shared how their innovative workflex strategies have positively impacted their employees as well as their organization. Elaine said that she utilizes Ride Connection’s compressed workweek offering to work four 10-hour days to address elder care responsibilities.  Having senior leaders flex sends an important message to other employees and builds a culture of support for flex.

gDiapers believes that the key to attracting and maintaining a high-performance organization is to provide family-centric flex options for its employees.  Not only does it offer subsidized onsite child care, but it also provides its 18 employees with three months paid maternity/paternity leave and four weeks paid time off from Year One.

Jason shared how a competitor recently tried to lure away one of his top performers with an offer of almost twice as much in compensation and a title boost.  After the employee assessed her work-life needs, however, she chose to stay with gDiapers given the organization’s commitment to workflex.

It was a great first day in Oregon.  Now, for a drive down to Eugene.

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