As CEO of Path Forward, a non-profit dedicated to helping stay-at-home moms find a way back into the workforce, Tami Forman obviously believes that mothers are an underutilized resource for businesses. But, as she pointed out in a recent DisruptHR talk, that's not the main reason why more companies should put in place policies that make them more welcoming to parents.
Revamping your company to be more flexible and mom-friendly, Forman insists, is simply better business. "Companies that measure success by hours in the seat are not good places for women," she observes, but they're also just not good companies. Clock-watching disadvantages parents, but it also advantages mediocrity. Why?
"Hours in the seat is a really easy game to win if you suck. All you have to be able to do is sit," she points out to audience laughter.
In the short-but-punchy talk that was recently recommended on both the blogs of both top VC Brad Feld and prominent angel investor Joanne Wilson, Forman offers a handful of tips to companies that want to both make themselves appealing to that vast pool of talent that actually wants a life outside work, and get up to date on cutting-edge people management practices, including:
1. Value results, not face time.
This is easy to say, but hard to do, Forman concedes, but getting it right isn't just essential to making your company more attractive to caregivers, but also key to becoming higher performing overall. Just be careful you come up with the right metrics as a relentless focus on results alone can cause your people to fear failure, hobbling innovation.
2. Make work-life fit a business objective, not an individual burden.
If you're team is stressed out and unbalanced that's not just their problem, it's yours. "The more that you make space for people to have life outside the office, the better they're going to perform when they're in the office," Forman says.
3. Flexibility is for everyone.
When flexibility is just for moms, it creates an unfortunate double stigma that makes companies both less likely to hire them and other types of workers less likely to take advantage of flex-work policies. Make it clear that your commitment to work-life balance isn't just for parents but for everyone looking to live a rich, full life, and everyone wins.
4. Be open to "radical" solutions.
Remember when unlimited vacation sounded like the craziest idea imaginable, Forman asks the crowd? Now, despite some teething problems, it's pretty much mainstream within the tech industry and spreading from there. Ideas to make your company more friendly to a broader range of talent can appear "radical" at first, but given a little thought, they turn out to be just good sense.
Want more details? The five-minute talk is well worth the time it takes to watch.