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I participated in THE most AWESOME conference this week- The Working Mother Media – 2012 National Conference Supporting Hourly Workers in Washington, DC.
The venue headlined cutting edge best practices and initiatives; developing hourly employees towards leadership roles as well as cultivating a strong employee value proposition. There was a contagious energy swirling around the 12 winners named Best Companies for Hourly Workers. We threw ourselves into the arena, discovering new ways to take our own companies to the next level. I was inspired by the stories executives relayed about their employees and their own career journeys.
Hourly Workers are Your Future Managers, Leaders
Marriott relayed that 40% of their executives rose through the ranks. A senior director from Sodexo talked about her first job as a kitchen worker in a hospital, and a supervisor who provided flex scheduling so that she could finish her education. This role model boss not only knew the names of all of his employees, but their dreams too. Powerful!
A district manager from PetSmart, who started as pet groomer discussed their tuition reimbursement, flexible work and telecommute programs.
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Target views all of their team members as future leaders. Top companies cultivate careers by investing in education, training and taking care of their workforce.
Karol Rose (Principal at FlexPaths) and I led a breakout session on “Flex Solutions for Different Life Stages.” Hourly workers and their families often face unique challenges and complicated scheduling issues that can impact their job performance, attendance, and career growth. Success requires creative thinking from management: listening to employees, being willing to experiment, and then working together to evaluate the outcomes of their decisions based on pre-established criteria.
Companies that support up-ward mobility provide online scheduling systems and empower employees to swap shifts to meet business and personal needs. They also provide cross training so that they can cover gaps AND employees can pick up extra shifts when they need extra money.
One of the challenges that companies face is how to communicate flex initiatives, training, tuition reimbursement, wellness benefits, etc. to their employees. We suggest using social media and internal social networks to enable employees to share their stories and celebrate successes.
Flexible Work Scheduling: The Future is NOW
Flexible work is not a “nice to do” or a “benefit” – it’s a business strategy. Personal situations are evolving outside of the boardroom, and it’s no longer just an “accommodation” for women – approximately 50% of hourly workers are men. It crosses generations: it’s “table stakes” for Millennials and a lever for Boomers who are delaying retirement or pursuing “encore careers.”
Hourly workers, your non-exempt employees are “the face” and the brand of large corporations. It’s the smile that greets you when you walk into a store or hotel, or the positive voice on the phone that solves your problem.
Know their names…Know their dreams. Leverage flexible work to create a supportive culture that allows all employees (nonexempt and exempt) to perform at their best and deliver shareholder value.
Lisa Bonner is the Assistant Vice President of Contemporary Work Practices at The Hartford. She is the proud mother of very active 14 year-old twin boys and resides in Suffield, Connecticut. Connect with her on LinkedIn. The opinions expressed are personal and not related to The Hartford.