by Meredith C. Keith Chirch, MA, PHR
The competition to obtain top talent has finally arrived, and as a result, many companies are trying to find ways to attract and retain the folks they need to drive the business. While there are certainly many ways to appear as a company of choice to job seekers, there is one that is virtually foolproof. More and more employees today are searching for ways to spend more time with their families or even on their personal hobbies and interests. Therefore, one company benefit that prospective employees may be looking for while conducting a job search is a work/life balance program. In addition, employees are looking for companies who are willing to invest in their employees’ development. Successful individuals often want to be assured that there are leadership development programs at their disposal that will support their learning of new skills in order to help them grow. Many companies already have these offerings in place. However, some companies are still not yet on board with these ways of attracting top talent. If your company is currently missing these opportunities, you may be looking for a way to convince them to get on board. If so, here are some tips for taking on this endeavor.
The best way to proceed is to draft a proposal that clearly states your suggestions, how they would be implemented, any costs (if none, highlight this fact!), and the return on investment. Specific and quantifiable research, showing that companies with these policies not only have happier employees, but a more productive workforce, will only help to bolster your case.
For example, if you propose a flexible work schedule program, a good information source is the Society for Human Resources Management Web site (www.SHRM.org) and their archived articles. Once you have facts about how flexible work schedules can benefit the company, state the specifics of what the program should look like. Should it offer flexible start and end times? If so, within what limits? Would people come and go as they please, or would they need to commit to a specific shift for an unspecified amount of time? Would there be a record-keeping component to the program, and if so, who would be responsible for that? The best way to create this proposal is to partner with your Human Resources department, since most likely, this department would be administering any work/life benefits.
Flexible work schedules are a great benefit for a company to offer because there is no financial cost, yet it makes employees very happy. Just about everyone loves having this option and the opportunity that a flexible schedule gives people to plan their lives.
You also could suggest flexible work weeks, which involves compressing work time into fewer days to have more time off. For instance, our company has a flex week program in which employees work 40 hours in 4 and a half days, taking a half-day during that week as time off. This allows for things such as appointments that can only be made during the daytime, starting your weekend early, or being able to make that talent show in the middle of the school day for a child.
To create a persuasive proposal, cite best practices used by other companies that are considered great places to work. It is also important to include direct comments from employees, such as requests from existing or even departed employees. This feedback could be obtained by exit interviews or opinion surveys. Above all, your focus should be on making sure that whatever plan is developed supports the business needs – – this must be the top priority.
Leadership training is another great way to show employees that you do care about their future beyond their current role. There are several ways to propose this kind of resource. You could research area training facilities to find out if they would give your employees a discount in exchange for the company’s willingness to advertise their services to employees. This would be an off-site option. For onsite training, you could research fees for facilitators in the area to do specific training for a department, or you could open it up to interested employees throughout the company. Lastly, you could pitch the idea to an existing Human Resources professional in your company and see if they would be willing to take on the role of an in-house trainer or if they have ideas to tap into extra resources for such a task. There are many classes available in the marketplace, so if you are looking for some specific leadership classes, you might want to do your homework on those as well. Decide what kind of classes you think would benefit the greatest number of people at your worksite. The more employees they benefit, the greater return on investment your company will see, thereby ensuring a better chance for management buy-in.
Best of luck to you in your proposal. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away — this is a tough area to break into. Keep trying and you may very well succeed!
Meredith C. Keith Chirch, MA, PHR is a Human Resources Manager with Federated Corporate Services, Inc., a division of Federated Department Stores. If you have questions or comments on this article, you can contact Meredith at Meredith.Keith.Chirch@fds.com.