Monthly Archives: September 2016

Friendly Workplace Policies

Many employers are realizing that if they want to attract top employees, they need to create a family-friendly environment, new research suggests. Overall, about half of employers have taken steps recently to ensure their employees can spend quality time with their spouses and children, according to a study from the staffing firm OfficeTeam. Specifically, over the last five years, 49 percent of organizations have made changes to workplace policy to better accommodate working parents, while 51 percent have not made any extra effort to make it easier for employees to spend time with their families. “With half of companies offering more family-friendly benefits in recent years, the onus is on organizations that have not kept pace to revisit their policies,” Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, said in a statement. “Employers should actively promote their programs in this area to attract and retain top workers.”

One problem employers may have is that they put their resources into perks that don’t influence a working parent’s decision to join a company. The research shows that while 79 percent of employees named flexible hours as the family-friendly perk that would best convince them to work for an employer, just 68 percent of employers actually offer that option.

Conversely, the study revealed that just 3 percent of employees said maternity and paternity leave policies would influence where they decided to work, but nearly 80 percent of employers offer those policies. Additionally, just 2 percent of workers said they want their employers to offer childcare programs. However, 18 percent of the organizations surveyed offer those options. Employers also put resources into adoption benefits, but this area doesn’t affect whether employees want to work for a company, either. The study discovered that 35 percent of businesses offer some sort of adoption benefits, but none of the employees surveyed said the feature would entice them to work somewhere. “Having extra time with family can be a game changer for staff,” Britton said. “Perks like flexible schedules and telecommuting are attractive to all employees, because everyone appreciates work-life balance, whether that means being able to take care of obligations at home or pursue personal interests.”

Response to the Election

Business leaders have a choice during the next few months in the way they speak publicly about political affairs. The Brexit referendum, the U.S. presidential election, and the growing support for nationalism in many countries have all made it impossible to ignore politics — because every aspect of major businesses is affected by globalization. Top business leaders are reacting to these developments in a variety of ways: They are intrigued by the business opportunities or the presumed reduction in taxes; concerned about the impact on diversity; uncertain about the effect this will have on their access to global markets; disheartened or pleased personally. No matter what their perspective, they may be inclined to share their views openly or they may be tempted to remain silent. Either choice could make things better or worse within their companies. It all depends on how they do it, and how well they understand the personal responses triggered by these political events at levels below explicit consciousness.

For example, many organizational leaders have worked hard in recent years to develop more inclusive cultures; they recognize that people need to feel that they’re part of the same group to collaborate, especially across national boundaries. But the elections of 2016, and the associated public displays of nationalism, ethnic isolationism, and suspicion of outsiders, have reinforced deeply ingrained biases in people’s brains. No matter how inclusive your organization may be, and no matter what your employees’ political perspectives, you will probably see an increase in “us-versus-them” antagonism, and a corresponding reduction in trust, collaboration, and creativity. Just when companies need to innovate faster than ever to compete globally, they face the daunting prospect that millions of employees will work alongside colleagues whose presence subconsciously agitates them.