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Deborah Frett

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The Work-Life Tip Sheet: 10 Steps to a Successful Workplace

Posted: 10/22/09 12:11 PM ET

Over the years, there's been plenty of shaming big employers -- picketing, signs with attack slogans, marching in the streets. But the game of us-against-them doesn't work. In order to transform the workplace to better reflect today's workforce, we need to think about how to make working women and their families happy.

Business and Professional Women's (BPW) Foundation learned some tips to creating successful workplaces for both employers and their employees. Well, there are actually quite a few, but at least we know these efforts are worth it and it seems that the stock market is starting to agree.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Freek Vermeulen cites a study by Professor Michelle Arthur, from the University of New Mexico, that measures the stock market's attitude toward Fortune 500 companies' announcement of work-life programs.

The findings show that there is a 4.8% positive swing when this type of news is released. For perspective, there was a slightly negative response (-0.35%) back in the 1980s.

In recognition of October as National Work and Family Month, BPW Foundation came up with a "tip sheet" to help all workplaces become better aligned with today's workforce.

Successful Workplaces Tip Sheet:

  1. Flexibility. Maybe there's no such thing as balance. But at least employers can offer their employees the tools--telecommuting options, shift exchanges, compressed work weeks--to better manage their life inside and outside of the workplace.
  2. Diversity. It's more than filling quotas. Define it as broadly as possible for a competitive advantage: race, age, gender, orientation, disability, religion. Because, according to a study out this summer, "the mere presence of social diversity makes people with independent points of view more willing to voice those points of view, and others more willing to listen."
  3. Equity. It currently takes 16 months for a woman to earn what a man makes in 12 months. And that's not even adjusted for race. Make equity in both pay and access for positions and promotions a priority.
  4. Sustainability. To be environmentally aware, it is no longer enough to recycle newspapers. Reducing one's carbon footprint by telecommuting, printing documents sparingly and using dishwasher safe flatware are now imperatives to help protect the environment as well minimize operational costs. While we continue to wrestle with the definition of green jobs, we can all strive to work "greener."
  5. Care giving. Moms are not the only ones tending to the needs of their families. Care giving applies to the grandmother watching her grandchildren. Or the uncle watching over his injured niece coming back from Afghanistan. Or the father taking in his father to look after him. Allow for flexibility and compassion and your employees will reward you with their productivity.
  6. Wellness. H1N1 anyone? Paid sick days allows for those that are sick to be sick. And not to have to make the choice between infecting co-workers, prolonged health problems and food on the table.
  7. Multigenerational. Don't fall for the hype. Gen Ys aren't all cry-babies looking for awards. They want to impact the world, they are mission driven and they want your approval. Give it to them.
  8. Social spaces. Fifty-four percent of employers outright ban the use of social networking sites during work hours. But, companies scoring the highest on an engagement scale saw 18% revenue growth in the past year. Those brands with the least engagement saw revenue decline 6%.
  9. Retention. Provide mentoring, professional development, career advancement planning and continuing education to keep your talent working for you.
  10. Practice. Use polices, don't just have them on the books. Everyone should embrace them, from the CEO to the staff assistant.

For more on successful workplaces, check out www.bpwfoundation.org/successfulworkplaces

 

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