The Power of an Educated Strategy

This guest post was contributed by Kyra Cavanaugh, president of Life Meets Work, a workforce consulting company helping organizations achieve bottom-line results through flexible work.

When it comes to work-life programs, there are standard messages HR uses to sell it in to top leadership. We talk about recruitment, retention and engagement and if we're really bold we may even talk about productivity. But if management isn't responding to the same-old message, it's time to hit them with something new. Retool your marketing message by starting with organizational goals. What are the priority projects this year: reducing overhead, improving customer service scores, cutting carbon emissions, transferring baby boomer knowledge to the millennial Gen Y? Let's look at this in terms of workplace flexibility. Such programs have widespread reach, well beyond our traditional staffing concerns and can be messaged to solve numerous challenges. Here are a few examples:

Real Estate

PAi, a financial services firm in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is deferring millions of dollars in new real estate costs by expanding through telework. With its existing facility full to capacity, management switched recruiting efforts toward remote employees. Leaders say the move is also helping the company keep its ear to the ground in new markets. Talk with facilities management about whether a telework or hoteling program could alleviate any capacity issues.

Customer Service?

Shortly after 1-800-CONTACTS moved its customer service reps to home offices, turnover dropped from 140% to 35% and the retailer earned J.D. Power's highest customer service rating for a call center. Flexible start and end times and compressed work weeks could also contribute to customer service improvements by extending service hours.

Corporate Social Responsibility

If 'greening' initiatives are on the corporate agenda, telework provides a measurable way to reduce carbon emissions. Telework programs eliminate employee commutes and'if large enough'can reduce facility costs (construction, maintenance, HVAC) too.

Employee Wellness

Health insurance costs got people talking' Research shows that flexible workers eat better, sleep better and exercise more. Sell flexible scheduling as an extension of your employee wellness program.

Hiring Veterans

Flexible scheduling provides essential accommodations for disabled veterans who need time out for therapy sessions. Physically injured veterans who are new to using wheelchairs or prosthetic devices may also need more time to get ready for work in the morning and deal with alternate transportation issues.

Business Continuity

After massive snowstorms cost the federal government an estimated $70 million a day in lost productivity, Congress got serious about telework. In 2010 President Obama signed the Telework Enhancement Act creating minimum standards for telework in federal positions. And, in London this spring, companies began trialing telework systems in preparation for the massive transportation disruptions expected with the spring Olympics. Think flu outbreak, bridge collapse, and chemical spills'flexible work arrangements?can keep your business operational during natural- and man-made disasters.  

No matter what kind of work-life program you're trying to implement, step outside the benefits box and think in terms of company pain points. Look for ways your program can further company objectives or alleviate problems. Next, recruit allies from unexpected areas like IT, real estate, or even the company CFO to help make your case. You know that employee well-being has reverberating impact across the organization. Reframe the issue and others will see the potential too.