Flexibility to meet the dual demands of work and family life is a necessary component of the 21st Century workplace. October was designated as National Work and Family Month by the U.S. Senate in 2003, highlighting the increasing demands on employees as they try to achieve the effective work-life fit.
This month is a good time for HR professionals to get creative with flexible programs, or workflex, that, not only help reconcile work-life issues, but also support a positive workplace culture where employees can successfully meet their goals. HR experts, leaders and innovators with the ability to think creatively about meeting emerging employee needs will help their organizations stay ahead of the latest workplace trends and build a thriving, committed, and more energized workforce.
Mounting evidence shows that employees thrive in caring work environments with positive workplace cultures, resulting in improved job performance, more effective leadership, improved health, greater worker satisfaction, and better work-life fit. These benefits are confirmed by data from the National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW).
Effective workplaces are not one-size-fits-all scenarios, as employer and employee needs are varied and determined by a multitude of factors. Flexible programs, or workflex, can include family leave, flex-time, compressed workweeks, telecommuting, employee-managed time, reduced hours, welcoming environments/worksites, coaching to assist parents’ transition back to work, and other solutions.
Following are just a few of the notable workflex programs from former winners:
- American College of Healthcare Sciences, Portland, Ore.; Boly:Welch, Portland, Ore.; DMLO CPAs, Louisville, Ky.; and The Frontier Project, Richmond, Va.: All provide family-friendly perks, such as on-site breastfeeding rooms, playrooms, comfortable seating, group-dining-style kitchens, nap spaces, and a homework room stocked with books, art supplies, computers, and toys.
- DesignHammer, Durham, N.C.: Offers paid maternity and/or paternity leave. When school is closed, allows parents to work from home or to bring their children to work. As a result, the firm reports reduced employee turnover as well as increased efficiency and profitability.
- Fortune Title Agency, Inc., Roseland, N.J.: Celebrates an employee’s transition to parenthood. Offers maternity leave; new parents can adjust schedules and have the option to work remotely and/or gradually re-enter the workforce.
- Work Skills Corporation, Brighton, Mich.: Offers access to a success coach to help employees and families manage home- and work-life demands.