'But you're German!' I exclaimed. (Germans are entitled to up to 3 years of maternity leave.) ‘How did you go back to design work with a two-week-old baby?’
She shrugged teutonically. ‘I just kept him with me all the time. I rocked him in his cradle while I worked and propped him on the desk to feed him so I could keep on working. I took lots of breaks.’
Well, live and learn. I always thought feeding the baby at a computer was an urban myth.
‘You have so many customer meetings,’ I protested. ‘What did you do with him then?’
Another shrug. ‘I took him with me. If he cried someone would always hold him. I even took him to the trade shows. He was a big hit.’ She smiled at my incredulous look and added, ‘I work in a creative area. It’s probably easier for me to get away with doing things my own way.’
She's very successful at what she does and her son, Max, is an outgoing, well-adjusted child. She might be onto something…
Still, despite some promising experiments with bringing babies to work I'm not sure we're ready for a fifth generation in the workplace. At least, not a generation that still needs to be burped and changed. There’s such a thing as too much diversity.
And yet, the way people work is changing on the heels of new technology, a chastised economy and a fourth generation entering the workforce. More people work remotely or on a project basis and social media tools are re-defining how we interact and collaborate.
Another friend works in Colorado for a company in Arkansas and praises her company for their forward thinking: ‘Once they realized they couldn’t get the people they wanted to move to Arkansas they decided to be flexible about where people work. Then they had to learn how to manage remote people. And now they're really good at it.'
Increasingly, companies offer flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, remote work, and part-time schedules. And more and more talented professionals are choosing careers that offer flexibility so they can ‘have it all.’
Flexibility can help stave off talent poachers, too. If your employees can work from home and choose their own hours will they be willing to give that up for a bit more money? Probably not, unless you seriously underpay.
Bottom line: When it comes to the war for talent, being good at flexibility is an attractive benefit and a competitive advantage in the war for talent.
Flexibility. The new little black of benefits.
Picture courtesy of littleblackdressmagazine.com.
Laura Schroeder is a Compensation Strategist at Workday, headquartered in Pleasanton, CA. She has nearly fifteen years of experience designing, developing, implementing and evangelizing global Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions and holds a certificate in Strategic Human Resources Practices from Cornell University. Her articles and interviews on HCM topics have been published in the US, Europe and Asia. She lives in Munich, Germany and enjoys cooking, reading, writing, kick boxing and spending time with friends and family. If you want to read more from Laura, check out her talent management blog Working Girl or follow her on Twitter @WorkGal.