SHRM President and CEO Henry G. (Hank) Jackson participated in a Congressional briefing about workplace flexibility today. The panel, “Creating a 21st Century Workplace for a 21st Century Workforce,” provided policy makers with examples and evidence of how workplace flexibility is in the best interests of employees and employers.

The panel, moderated by Kathleen Christensen of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, discussed how flexible strategies — such as telecommuting, flextime, part-time work, job sharing and compressed schedules — boost productivity, increase employee engagement and morale, lower turnover and absenteeism, and lower overhead costs.

“Today, to compete and succeed, organizations must adapt to new workforce realities and to major transformations that have emerged in just the past 20 years,” Jackson said. “And those changes are creating or fueling more challenges for individuals in meeting their work/life needs.”

The briefing — supported by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho — also included John C. Parry Jr., CEO of Solix, Inc., a winner of Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility.

SHRM believes current labor law hinders innovation. With outdated labor laws and a dramatically changing workforce, the U.S. needs a 21st century workplace flexibility policy that meets the needs of both employees and employers.

“Current labor laws have not kept pace with the evolving needs of today’s diverse, adaptable and mobile workforce,” Jackson said. “The HR profession advocates a flexibility policy that for the first time responds to the diverse needs of employees and employers, a policy that reflects different work environments, types of industries and organizational sizes.”

SHRM has created a set of principles to guide the development of such a workplace flexibility public policy. The principles call for public policy that encourages employers to voluntarily offer paid leave and other flexible options.

SHRM partnered with the Families and Work Institute to create and highlight leading research and spotlight best practices through the  “When Work Works” program and the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility.