Using Flexible Schedules: Better Work, Healthier Employees

Using Flexible Schedules: Better Work, Healthier Employees

Personal crises impacting employees can encompass more than individuals becoming sick or injured. Stressful and often unexpected responsibilities and worries include having to care for an elderly parent, ill child or newborn or supporting a newly unemployed or underemployed spouse. The result for the worker may be financial strain as well as a detrimental impact on mental and physical health (in some cases even triggering alcohol and drug abuse). For the employer, the employee’s problems may translate into absenteeism and reduced productivity. Increasingly, however, HR leaders and managers are realizing that creating flexible work schedules can help employees in times of crisis – and it can also be a strategy that benefits both the workforce and the company, in general. Academic researchers, business and labor leaders, and government and military officials gathered in Washington, DC, to discuss this topic at a Focus on Workplace Flexibility conference sponsored by the nonprofit …

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Why and How to Avoid Politics at Work

Why and How to Avoid Politics at Work

It can be tempting to discuss politics at work. After all, whether it’s a looming national election or a local one, you have a perfect right to strongly endorse a candidate and to discuss who won a debate. But don’t do it at work! That’s the advice of business etiquette expert and communications consultant Barbara Pachter, whose client list includes Microsoft, Pfizer, Chrysler, Cisco and ConEdison. “The problem is that people often have strong opinions when it comes to politics. And in today’s super-charged political climate, it’s easy to say something that might insult or enrage your boss, a customer or a co-worker,” she explains. “Political discussions can quickly and easily escalate into arguments, sometimes heated ones.” Pachter, who’s the author of numerous books, including The Power of Positive Confrontation, says the following questions are “hot buttons” you should avoid: “Who are you going to vote for?” Never ask this …

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Flexibility Bias: What HR Leaders Need to Know

Flexibility Bias: What HR Leaders Need to Know

What happens when employees need a flexible work schedule, often in response to childcare needs? While it’s not uncommon for workers to arrange a telecommuting or flex time schedule with their employers, there can be a significant downside – flexibility bias. This phenomenon, involving prejudice and resentment from co-workers and even managers towards employees who need a flexible schedule, isn’t new. However, its impact may be more pervasive and damaging than many employees and employers realize. A case in point: Researchers at Rice University and the University of California, San Diego, polled 266 faculty members at a top-ranked university about attitudes towards parents of young children who had flexible work schedules. The results, recently published in the journal Work and Occupations, show flexibility bias is a problem even in a university setting where flexible schedules are more common – and this prejudice can not only harm a worker’s career, but it can also negatively impact an organization’s bottom line. While the study …

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