Today the U.S. Department of Labor will be in Dallas to host the first of a series of “National Dialogues on Workplace Flexibility.” Already, President Obama and the First Lady have made headlines for their support of flexibility for employees, and these events aim to build from that commitment into specific plans. This first event will focus on the challenges facing small businesses, and what models for workplace flexibility can best benefit productivity and workplace effectiveness.
As part of that process, Family Values @ Work and the National Partnership for Women & Families convened a discussion group of 17 small business employees and owners in Dallas to discuss what flexibility means to workers. This report provides a snapshot of the challenges that workers face and the kinds of workplace flexibility that are most valuable to them.
The Dallas comments are powerful but not surprising. What do the workers want? To succeed on their jobs – and to take care of their loved ones. Consistency. Fairness. The right to be sick or care for a sick loved one without losing pay and without being penalized. Trust and respect.
Or, as one woman put it, not to “walk on eggshells all the time” for fear of falling ill and having no health benefits because part-time workers are excluded.
Those who already have some control over their schedules and paid time off shared that they feel valued and respected. Those who lack one or the other feel resentful and stressed.