Making the New Workplace Work



How is your organization keeping up with changes in the workplace? No matter our company size, industry or location, we cannot escape the forces that are dramatically reshaping work.

Consider workplace flexibility. According to research from the Society for Human Resource Management-sponsored Families and Work Institute, the number of companies offering telework arrangements has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. Work on the go has become the new normal, and technology has enabled communication and the completion of tasks 24/7. As a result, employees and employers alike are more focused on the end product than the particulars of when, where and how work gets done.

While our expectations around workplace flexibility have evolved, many of our policies have not. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor recently released the new Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rule. SHRM and thousands of HR professionals have expressed concerns that the rule, which doubles the salary threshold at which employees are declared exempt from overtime, is too aggressive and requires employers to comply within an unrealistic time frame. It is simply too much, too fast. It will also return us to an outdated way of working where people felt bound to their desks.

Flexibility is but one item on a long list of issues (paid leave, retirement, health care) that are exposing weaknesses of an aging employee-employer infrastructure built for doing business in the 1940s. We need to have candid conversations in our companies about the evolving workplace—and no one is better qualified to lead them than HR.

So I urge you to position yourself to influence change within your organization and to use your unique perspective as a leader focused on people management to weigh in on the strategies that will keep your company competitive today and in the future.

Now more than ever, the HR profession must guide the relationship between employer and worker and must lead the way toward policies that make sense and drive business success. It is HR’s time to make the new workplace work. 



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