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Flexing for Work-Life Integration


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Harassment: Here to Stay?



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HR & the Law in the News
April 2015, Volume 14, Issue 4
Hello again and welcome to the latest edition of FiveL Company's monthly e-newsletter, bringing you some of the latest news related to employment policies, practices and programs. 

Check out the upcoming events including this month's webcast, "Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know" plus archived programs! Click here for more info including 2015 discounted, annual subscriptions still available - get the remaining 8 for the price of 7! 
Flexing for Work-Life Integration

We hear a lot about workplace flexibility and work-life balance.  But what are they really? Do they really work and, if so how? I had the honor of presenting to an audience of nearly 300 attendees on this topic at SHRM's recent Employment Law & Legislative conference. The dialogue, interest, and Q & A were so engaging for me that it seemed a good time to share some of the information to an even broader audience. 


Integration versus Balance: What do you picture or see when you hear the word balance?  A scale?  A seesaw?  The implication might be that the activities we are trying to balance are mutually exclusive and have an inverse relationship; as one increases the other decreases. But that's not how this works, is it?  We stand in the shoes of a parent, spouse, significant other, son or daughter, student, reservist and so many other roles simultaneous to the one(s) we have at work.  With that in mind we'll refer to this struggle as work-life integration then rather than balance.

What is itIt depends upon whom you ask.  I dare say it is, can be and should be whatever works best for your business operations and your employees. That implies it may look differently from one employee to another.  For one it might be flex time; for another flex place; for another a reduced, modified or compressed work schedule. When Work Works has some great resources, publications and case studies that showcase what some employers, large and small have done to enhance WorkLife integration for their employees.


Why #1? Let's face it.  We have to run our business successfully and with an eye to sound fiscal policy. If we don't then flexibility will be the last thing on our mind, replaced with struggle to stay competitive if not afloat. The data is still fairly new and coming out but it does show measurable, positive results related to recruitment, retention and employee engagement.  Reducing recruitment time, increasing retention rates and employee engagement have all been tied to positive fiscal outcomes. 


Why #2? Do existing, new and pending laws and regulations frustrate you from time to time? I have had the honor on four occasions over the last two months to testify or just chat with elected officials, federal and state about employer mandates.  Of all the posturing, defenses, objections and (well you get the idea) I find the most simple, compelling and sincere explanation as to why employers don't need (paid) leave mandates is because the vast majority are already doing great things for their employees.  And if we would spend 1/10th of the time talking about our proactive practices as we do the "bad actors" then we might find common ground and paths to best serving the needs of ALL employees for EACH employer that is best suited to their mutual and respective needs.    


How? This may be the most difficult question to answer. Carefully!  The best of intentions may go awry.  Legal compliance can be challenging from a variety of perspectives: ADA, FLSA, FMLA, Title VII and nearly the entire gamut of HR alphabet soup. Sure, WorkFlex programs may be fraught with peril but the rewards can be so compelling they far exceed the risk and may be well worth the gain.  Gains are in trust, gratitude and loyalty from your employees.  Just ask them. I hear powerful stories from employees who are grateful for the flexibility provided by their employer so they could meet the demands that life throws their way from time to time. 


Where do I begin?  There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Here are some FREE resources to help you get started and/or assess where you are.

  • When Work Works offers a free on-line assessment that provides a WorkFlex score that compares you to employers across the nation.
  • The Families and Work Institute (FWI) has lots of resources for employers including videos, research, expert commentary and blog postings. 
  • The above both partner with SHRM, which also dedicates an entire section of its website to resources for employers including a Workplace Flexibility toolkit, webcasts, related publications and more. 

Now if I've left you thinking, "Christine, where is your usual story about some lawsuit that left the employer high and dry?"  Well, here's to sharing positive, proactive stories that we can use to advocate, shape public policy and avoid those litigation headlines.  And if you would like more information in the interim and missed the March webcast, just click here and scroll down to the archives: $25 pp. Still not satisfied?  Scroll down to the next story; it's more of the usual. Cheers! 

Upcoming Events
Last Month's Webcast: 
Speaking of WorkLife Integration!... 
"When Enough is (Not) Enough: The Legal Landscape of Workplace Flexibility"
Click here for the archived version ($25 pp)

This month's webcast, "Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know
April 22, 2015 10:00 - 11:15 a.m. EST

Click here for a program description or to register.


$49 per person. Live and archived webcasts are pre-approved by HRCI and SHRM for 1.25 credits. 
Discounted group rates available. Click here for more information. 
Get the remaining 8 for the price of 7
Click here for more information.


Upcoming Events: Click here for a full listing of public and private speaking engagements, seminars and conferences.

Upcoming Public Speaking Events
Wednesday, May 20th - "Employment Law Update" presented for the members and guests of the HR Association of Southern Maryland (HRASM), 9:00 - 12:30, Waldorf, MD.

Upcoming Client Training Programs
  • Recruitment & Selection Procedures for Gov't Contractors (Web-Based Training)
  • Title IX: A Refresher for Faculty & Administrators
  • Managing for Performance Improvement 
Harassment: Here to Stay? 
I am reminded of the lyrics from an old song, "When Will it Ever End?"  I recall my days in HR in the late 80's / early 90's (thank you, yes, I know your SHOCKED that I could be that young!) developing our first harassment prevention training programs for staff and managers.  

But fast forward and here we are 25-ish years later (?!) and just two days ago, on March 30th EEOC announced the selection of members for a new Task Force "to study how to address and prevent all types of workplace harassment." It's exciting because if they find the answer to those questions they'll be the first.  On a more serious note, how disappointing is it that we will struggle with these issues? Human beings are just that - human and sentient beings. And we bring with us all sorts of bias and prejudice some of which are based on protected status and some which are not.  

Lately I find we are having more conversations about civility (or lack thereof) and bullying than unlawful harassment.  I find here another opportunity for dialogue with elected and appointed regulatory officials. The dialogue may shape public policy that rewards civil conduct and enables employers to let go those employees or not select those applicants who demonstrate incivility in their professional (or personal) lives.  It's a tangled web, slippery slope and so much more.  So, stay tuned for perhaps supplemental guidance from the EEOC on this issue.  

In the interim, if you have not heard it was recently announced at SHRM's Employment Law & Legislative Conference that the EEOC also plans to issue guidance on Workplace Wellness programs and their impact to compliance under the ADA, GINA, HIPAA and more. So...stay tuned (again and again and again)!

This newsletter does not constitute the rendering of legal advice.  You should consult your company's legal counsel for guidance on employment matters. 


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