In a recent column, I suggested you make your business family friendly. Your reaction may have been, “Yeah, right! Like I have extra money laying around for employee happy-pills.”
Well, I know you don’t. But if you have ambitions to grow your business efficiently, cut costs, and retain your best talent, a flexible workplace is just the business strategy you need. It’s not an employee benefit (better known as a cost). Instead, it’s a change in culture that reaps real dollar benefits.
Marcee Harris Schwartz is the Flex Strategy Advisor at BDO, a global accounting and financial advisory firm with offices in 135 countries. Check out that title: Why would a number-crunching firm buy into the culture of a flexible workplace? Because the numbers add up.
None of these required approval from on high. Because flexibility is now part of the culture, work units can design their own schedules according to what is best for all immediate stakeholders: clients, management, employees.
BDO worked with Cali Williams Yost, CEO and founder of the Flex+Strategy Group / Work+Life Fit, Inc. Yost is an ardent advocate of workplace flexibility as a business strategy rather than an employee perk. Her focus is finding the business benefits of flexibility and training both management and employees to deal with the cultural changes needed to make it work.
Oh, and that perk thing, the one about keeping talented employees? BDO started its flexibility project as part of its “women’s initiative” but the research came back “that flexibility is an issue for everyone,” says Harris Schwartz. Men and employees without children reported having a harder time managing life and work than working mothers, she says. “More than 90% of employees found [flexible work] an important retention driver.”
Sounds like a win-win to me.