Human Resources Kit For Dummies
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Today’s employees want flexibility. To attract and keep top performers, more and more companies are striving to be what’s called employee-friendly. Essentially, this means that your scheduling and general operating policies take into reasonable account the personal needs of employees — in particular, their desire to balance job obligations with family responsibilities and outside interests.

Being able to maintain more control over schedules has become a priority for most workers, especially parents and adults helping to care for their aging parents and in-laws.

Chief among the practices and policies that are typically found in companies actively pursuing work/life initiatives are flexible scheduling, telecommuting, and other off-site work arrangements; employee assistance programs; and benefits programs that enable employees to select the benefits (childcare or eldercare support, for example) relevant to their needs.

Technology is a strong force enabling businesses to provide employees with flexibility, especially the ability to work remotely. Tools include Microsoft Office Communicator, for video calls, audio calls, sharing desktops, and instant messaging; Microsoft SharePoint, for collaboration; and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology, which allows individuals to make and accept calls anywhere.

Policies supporting a healthier work/life balance do more than simply enhance a company’s recruiting initiatives. They also can produce a number of bottom-line benefits, such as reduced absenteeism, fewer disability claims, and fewer workplace accidents. Less time spent commuting, reduced stress, fewer distractions, and the ability to more easily deal with personal issues such as child illness could be among the reasons for these benefits.

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Max Messmer is chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, the world's largest specialized staffing firm. He is one of the leading experts on human resources and employment issues.

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