Thursday, May 28, 2009

Report Highlights Benefits of Flexible Work Arrangements

Is now the time for boosting flexible work arrangements?

In a paper released earlier this month by Georgetown Law, a 22-person task force of employers, researchers, consultants and other experts answers with an emphatic yes. “…We believe the current crisis underscores the need for, and value of, flexible work arrangements,” writes the National Advisory Commission on Workplace Flexibility. “Flexible work arrangements give workers a fair chance to juggle the competing demands of personal life and work successfully, particularly during the time when older workers need to work longer to secure retirement and women’s labor force participation is on the rise. And employers want to retain their best workers both now, in order to meet their business needs and to get the job done as efficiently as possible, and in the future when the economy improves.”

The 47-page Public Policy Platform on Flexible Work Arrangements capped a year of research and interviews with leaders in the private and public sector. The project was part of a larger workplace flexibility initiative funded by the non-profit Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and encompassing not only flexible workplace arrangements but time off and career development and re-entry. The paper cites the advantages of flexible work arrangements (FWAs) and offers a blueprint for incorporating them into management strategies.

Flexible work arrangements cover such issues as compressed work weeks, job sharing, non-traditional start and stop times, phased retirement, job shares and telecommuting.

The paper recommends the creation of a national multi-media campaign outlining the benefits of flexible work arrangements, training, technical assistance and other resources for organizations to establish these programs, and support for federal and state government initiatives. “The federal government must take the lead on a full-scale, national conversation on FWAs by transforming its workplace into an example of the ‘new norm,’” the paper says.

Public Policy Platform also highlights three model flexible work programs, including Deloitte’s Mass Career Customization. The Deloitte program allows employees to make fundamental adjustments in workload, responsibilities, job location and scheduling. In the paper, Deloitte’s chairman Sharon Allen said “a culture of flexibility is a tremendous competitive advantage.” She said: “For companies, MCC fosters greater loyalty and employee retention, and for employees, more satisfaction by being able to fit their life into their work and their work into their life.”


No comments: