Creating Your Dream Workplace
A Guide for Work-Life Champions
Creating your dream workplace
Your workplace may not be the subject of your dreams, and if it ever is, it may be a relief to wake up. But what if your workplace really was a dream?
What might that look like?
If you were dreaming with your management hat on, your vision might look like a group of highly productive workers, all fully engaged, excited about the work and totally committed, all completely focused on your organization's goals and working hard to achieve them.
If you're looking at it with an employee's-eye view, you may be using different criteria. Your dream workplace may be someplace where every employee is treated with respect, where it's acknowledged that every worker is a whole person with important responsibilities − outside of work as well as inside − and where the organization is helping them be distraction-free by offering them assistance in meeting those personal obligations.
If the second vision isn't true, you can keep dreaming about the first but chances are it's not going to happen. It's no coincidence that organizations that look like that second vision also look like the first. Most of them have entered the 21st century with the realization that their diverse workforce has needs that call for a new way to look at employee relations. That new way is called "Work-Life," and there are two views of it, just as there are two separate "dream" workplaces. Our intention is to make sure both dreams are a reality, and because employers are pretty much the designers, we look at it with an employer's perspective. What is work-life?
Here's our definition, looking at it that way. We see work-life as those initiatives designed to create a more supportive, flexible work environment, enabling employees to focus on work tasks while at work. It means adding programs to meet life event needs, ensuring that policies give employees as much control as possible over their lives, and using flexible work practices (flextime, compressed workweek, reduced workload, job sharing, work redesign, telecommuting and informal flexibility) as a strategy to meet the needs of both business and employees.
Finally, and most important, it means making sure the organization's culture acknowledges that its employees are whole people with important responsibilities outside of work, and doesn't penalize them for taking full advantage of what's offered, whether it's flexibility or programs.
Why is work-life critical?
We now know that work-life initiatives actually produce desired results for both employees and employers.
Research tells us that a supportive workplace culture, together with a variety of programs, policy changes and flexible work practices, work to ease employers' pain.
Why is it critical for your organization? The answer to that question may depend on what's keeping your
CEO up at night. Where is the pain coming from?
Here are seven possibilities: the need for more productivity to keep up with global competition the need to cut the high cost of health care the need to reduce absenteeism the need to increase engagement and commitment the need to cut costs (including the cost of turnover) the need to recruit skills the need to improve profit and stock prices.
And here’s the good news. Work-life initiatives – everything you do to make your culture more flexible and supportive – are painkillers for all seven.
The need to increase productivity
Training managers to be more supportive, giving employees more control over how the work is done, and implementing flexible work schedules are all considered work-life initiatives, and we have six separate studies linking all three to dramatic increases in productivity. They come from such diverse researchers as Gallup, which surveyed two million employees in 700 companies over 25 years, software-maker Corel, the
UK Industrial Society and