All would agree that the workforce has changed. Increasingly, employees are experiencing a time famine, or a feeling of not spending enough time with loved ones or having enough time for themselves. There are now four generations in the workforce and four in five of all employees who are married are in dual-earner couples. One of every five employees currently provides elder care and this number will increase dramatically to almost half of the workforce over the next several years. And, it is no surprise that employed men, especially working fathers in dual-earner households, are experiencing more work-family conflict than in the past. The workplace is also undergoing important transformations. The global marketplace runs on a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week economy, and technology has enabled greater mobility for organizations. The current economic situation has increased employee stress levels, and surveys suggest turnover is set to increase as the economy improves. For far too long, however, a structural mismatch between the needs of the 21stcentury workforce and the norms of the 20thcentury workplace has prevailed. Research from the Families and Work Institute (FWI) confirms this has been especially true for men. As The New Male Mystique research highlighted, traditional views about men as breadwinners are now colliding with emerging gender role values that encourage increased family/household involvement by fathers. In workplaces that may not yet fully support these roles, fathers experience more pressure “to do it all to have it all.” Consider, for example, a recent SHRM survey in which 95 percent of HR professionals said they made no special effort to ask fathers what they needed in terms of workplace flexibility. Now more than ever, it is important for HR professionals and their organizations to identify strategies to support the work-life needs of all employees to improve engagement and morale, increase productivity, retain top performers and, ultimately, improve business performance. In 2011, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) partnered with FWI to deliver workplace flexibility research, education, and best practice information to HR professionals to help them implement flexible work environments. This partnership also made When Work Works (www.whenworkworks.org), a nationwide initiative to create more effective and flexible workplaces for the 21stcentury. Working with over 20 community partners across the country, When Work Works provides education on the business benefits of flexibility and shares research and information on effective and flexible workplace practices. By leveraging SHRM’s network of chapters and state councils going forward, the goal is to integrate this important initiative in even more communities and states, expanding the reach to influence even more organizations. The centerpiece of the When Work Works initiative has been the Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility, a nationally recognized award for organizations that are using workplace flexibility as part of their business practice. Winners of this prestigious award have been selected through a rigorous application process that incorporates employer and employee surveys. Sloan Award winners represent employers that are making work “work” better for both the bottom line and for employees. gDiapers, a direct-to-consumer retail diaper business with 18 employees in Portland, Ore., is a great example of an organization making work “work” better – for fathers, too! This small company was founded by Jason Graham-Nye (who I had the distinct pleasure of meeting recently), and his wife, Kim. In Jason’s homeland of Australia, he and Kim learned that every day 5,000 diapers are put in landfills, where they stay for 500 years. That led them to the conclusion that a flushable, biodegradable diaper was needed. And so their business was born! As parents themselves, it’s no surprise Jason and Kim have built a company that believes the key to attracting and maintaining a high performance organization is to provide family-centric flex options for all its employees. Not only does it offer subsidized onsite child care, three months paid maternity and paternity leave and four weeks paid time off from year one, gDiapers also provides flex-time work opportunities to allow parents more flexibility with child care and emergencies at home. These are exactly the promising and innovative practices When Work Works seeks to uncover. By highlighting these effective and flexible strategies – that not only help employees meet their work and life demands but also help organizations achieve business results – we can help make workplace flexibility the standard way of working in the United States.
Last question, do I have to be a SHRM member or contribute to the SHRM Foundation to use their complimentary resources?[Beth] No, as a public charity, the SHRM Foundation makes all of its resources available free to the public–both SHRM members and non-members– on its website. Hard copies of the most recent products are also available by request from the Foundation.My thanks to Beth for sharing her knowledge with us. While Beth did point out that the SHRM Foundation resources are free to anyone, keep in mind that they would not be able to create these resources without our support. So if you do find the resources useful, consider making a tax-deductible donation at shrmfoundation.org/donate.I’m always looking for well-prepared information about the future of work. I can tell you from personal experience, the SHRM Foundation creates quality research and information that you can use in your strategic planning, operational goal setting and business meetings.Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) is my professional association. I support other professional organizations, but my first HR job was as a generalist so SHRM was the first professional association I joined. Every employer I’ve ever worked for supported my membership in SHRM and allowed me to attend SHRM professional development events. They also supported me being a SHRM volunteer leader.It wasn’t until I became a volunteer leader that I learned about the SHRM Foundation. That’s why I think of it as a best kept secret. The SHRM Foundation supports our role as human resources professionals through research, thought-leadership and awards. And frankly, we can all use good information to make our jobs easier. So I reached out to Beth McFarland, CAE to share a little more with you about what the Foundation does to help us in our daily jobs. Beth is the director of foundation programs with the SHRM Foundation and I’ve had the pleasure of working with her for years.Beth, can you share with readers some background about the SHRM Foundation (i.e., what it does, how long it’s been around, etc.)[Beth] The SHRM Foundation was created by SHRM in 1966, so we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary next year. Our main mission is really research and education. We support students and professionals in their lifelong learning by awarding more than $150,000 in education and certification scholarships annually.In addition, we develop educational materials for HR professionals and students, and fund original rigorous research to advance the knowledge base of the HR profession. To help educate HR professionals on the trends impacting the workplace, we introduced a major multi-year thought leadership initiative in 2013.As a special expertise panel member, I know a little about the thought leadership initiative you’re talking about. Tell us more about the project.[Beth] We believe that understanding the fundamental changes impacting the world of work is the first step to preparing for them—and ultimately leveraging them for competitive advantage. That’s why we launched a multi-phase initiative to identify and analyze critical trends likely to affect the workplace in the next 5-10 years. Through a rigorous process of surveys, expert-panel discussions and analysis conducted in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), we identified three key themes and have been focusing our program of work on a different theme each year.In 2015, our focus is Engaging and Integrating a Global Workforce. We have released a report, written by the EIU that explains this theme in more detail. Later this year we’ll be releasing infographics and video interviews to help people learn more about this topic. Members of the SHRM expert panels are now working to identify specific ways these trends will impact the workplace and what HR can do now to prepare. Their final report will be released this fall. Visit our Digital Hub to learn more about SHRM Foundation thought leadership. One of my go-to resources is the “Effective Practice Guidelines” series. Relevant information I can use every day. What other types of “thought leadership” are produced by the SHRM Foundation?Thanks for highlighting those. What’s great about the Effective Practice Guidelines (or ‘EPGs’ as we call them) is that they provide a quick overview of each topic along with practical, specific guidelines for success—and it’s all based on solid research. We create these in an easy-to-use format that really works well for busy HR professionals.In addition to our EPGs, we also publish shorter executive briefings— which are great to share with other leaders and line managers in your organization—and a series of educational DVDs that show strategic HR in action. We’re proud to report that, in addition to workplaces, these resources are now used in hundreds of college classrooms as well. And excerpts from the EPGs are often included in HR textbooks.This year, the SHRM Foundation provided awards to individuals who have never attended the annual conference before. And the SHRM Foundation provides other types of scholarships, awards and research grants to professionals. How can someone learn more about these programs?[Beth] Easy! Visit our website at shrmfoundation.org and select ‘Scholarships & Awards’ from the top menu. This provides an overview of the different awards available to each group: SHRM members, students/advisors and researchers. The ‘overview’ page provides a brief description of each award along with the application deadline. Click on any award for more information and to access the online application. For information about research grants, choose the ‘Research’ tab at the top of the page.How is the work of the SHRM Foundation funded?[Beth] The SHRM Foundation funds its work with gifts from individuals, companies, organizations, sponsors, SHRM chapters and SHRM state councils. In 2013 and 2014, the Foundation’s annual campaign raised more than $1 million. Because of the generous financial and in-kind support received from SHRM to cover operating expenses, all other funds raised through the annual campaign go directly into programs, including scholarships, educational products, research and thought leadership. To read more on HR Bartender Blog, please click here.