CHARLOTTE, N.C.—It was another busy day for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) at the Democratic National Convention, when leaders joined with Third Way, a Washington, D.C.-based political activist group, on Sept. 5, 2012, to offer a policy briefing and panel discussion on flexible workplace policies.
The featured speaker for the luncheon event was Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., who outlined her efforts to push legislation through Congress that provides incentives designed to help businesses of all sizes create work skills development opportunities and provide workplace flexibility policies to their employees.
“In order to remain competitive globally, we must have a highly skilled and engaged workforce,” Hagan said. “First we must have the education and development opportunities in place that provide workers the skills they need. And then employers must offer the workplace flexibility that keeps these workers on the job and productive.”
Hagan has been a chief sponsor in the U.S. Senate of several pieces of legislation that, if enacted, would support small-business owners in their efforts to train and hire workers. She told attendees that the proposals had received bi-partisan support and that she was hopeful that Congress would move to enact legislation after the November presidential election.
“Statistics show that U.S. employers have 3.76 million job openings that they can’t fill because they can’t find qualified workers,” Hagan said. “We can give the economy and employers a major boost, if we can find cost-effective and efficient ways to develop the skilled workforce that we so desperately need.”
Following Hagan’s comments, a panel of experts discussed workplace flexibility policies and their impact on employers and their workers.
“Research clearly shows that flexible workplace policies have a very positive impact on a company’s bottom line and productivity,” said Mark Schmit, vice president of research for SHRM and one of the event’s panelists. “Workplace flexibility truly is a business imperative for the 21st Century.”
Another panelist, Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute in New York City, agreed with Schmit’s assessment and discussed several examples and case studies of businesses that have benefited greatly by implementing flexible workplace policies.
“Any business that doesn’t have flexible policies in place really doesn’t understand the business realities of today,” Galinsky said.
All the panelists said they were hopeful after hearing Sen. Hagan’s remarks that Congress and the White House would enact federal legislation and implement initiatives that enhance and promote flexible workplace policies.
“The time to act on this is now, and, if we don’t, then the U.S. will continue to lose its competitive advantage of having the most innovative and productive workforce in the world,” Hagan said.
Bill Leonard is senior writer for SHRM.