I recently interviewed Emma Plumb (director of 1 Million for Work Flexibility, or 1MFWF) for Bauer College’s Working Wisdom podcast “How Does She Do It?,” which shares stories of women who have non-linear trajectories of growth.
These conversations engage women who by all measures are successful. At the same time, their path to success was anything but smooth. How did they make the leaps and what inspired them to do so? The podcasts help us understand how success comes from being in the “arena” and daring the odds, greatly.
Life, as we all know, happens. Often, the successful individuals we speak with on the podcast took career breaks — in some cases it was to raise children, in others it was an aging parent whose needs were prioritized. Having the flexibility to determine your working hours makes sense, yet is uncommon in the world of business. Emma decided to focus on the issue of work flexibility, a focus that grew out of her own unpleasant experience.
Today is Oct. 17, and we celebrate the fifth annual National Flex Day, a day to encourage employers and employees to unite behind the need for more flexibility by sharing how pervasive and powerful it already is. National Flex Day is a partnership with Emma’s organization, 1MFWF, and Working Mother.
Workplace flexibility has grown from being the “right” thing to do to being the smart thing to do, if you want your business to succeed. Engaged employees are more productive, and engagement has to do with providing more options in the workplace. Research in this area supports the fact that more flexible work options increased productivity directly by allowing individuals to work at their productive peak times and indirectly by lowering stress levels. Flex work schedules lower absenteeism. They also reduce the costs associated with retraining and recruiting. Flex workplaces expand the talent pool for recruitment, they improve morale, and make employees know they are valued on their own terms. Millennials value flexibility right after compensation and benefits, and are more insistent about this than the generations before them.
More than anything else, flexibility in the workplace is smart business, and is hence a business imperative.
What are you doing to make your workplace embrace the idea of flexibility? Send me a suggestion for an actionable item that enhances flexibility in the workplace.