Daily Top 5 Global HR News – 13 July 2017
We bring together from ICube Research and published news, a summary of 5 items that are contemporary.
1. Where to start with automation tools in HR
When it comes to internal service management, the key to a fast and seamless process lies with automation tools. By tradition, IT departments have tended to be the pioneers, using new technology to create tickets and filter employee service requests through automated systems that lead to quickly resolved issues. As IT teams have evolved from primarily handling break-fix tickets to implementing service catalogs that facilitate a wide range of services, the push for internal automation is amplifying throughout the entire organization.
The modern customer support experience within consumer-facing markets has also become increasingly immediate and comprehensive across a number of communication platforms. These shifts have put increased pressure on organizations to treat employees like customers. And what department has the most employee interaction? That’s right, HR.
Be it managing requests for medical plans or approved time off, it’s not uncommon for HR departments to require several days before responding. With expectations for on-demand everything, it’s important for HR departments to keep up with employees’ service requests. Using automation tools, HR processes can be simplified to ease the burden on HR practitioners and improve turnaround times on approvals and services, ensuring employee needs are met quickly and efficiently.
Where to Start with Automation
Many departments track service requests manually through spreadsheets and emails, or using a basic ticket management system. HR departments should consider implementing a service catalog that enables automation of processes, for seamless onboarding and request management throughout the company. Aside from IT teams, human resource departments bear the brunt of service requests that filter through organizations. This makes automation even more vital to providing efficiency in service management.
Service requests are constantly evolving, and their nature shifts with every little change in an organization. Whether it’s a request to IT for a device or software for a new hire, a list of documents that need to be signed as a part of onboarding or a 401k enrollment request, HR leaders face a growing list of demands that require timely attention.
Automation is great for workflows that require a high number of approvals and steps. For example, onboarding a new employee, no matter the company, involves several steps from a wide range of departments. These steps include setting up the new hire with payroll by accounting, getting the right devices and software installments to the new employee from IT and everything in between.
HR leaders facilitate the onboarding process, and it can be grueling to manage each aspect of these services, especially given that HR should be modeling business processes and tracking all activities in a way that ensures accuracy and compliance. By automating onboarding procedures, human resources teams can ensure each step of the process is completed and approved.
What to Consider When Considering Automation
1. Cloud-based services for starting small or going big
There are a range of cloud-based service platforms out there that significantly simplify different business operations — be it by outsourcing tasks or subscribing to tailored services. As companies increasingly adopt cloud solutions, automation tools are very valuable in enabling speed and scalability. It’s up to the HR department to decide if it wants to start small or go big. For example, perhaps moving training to a cloud service makes more sense to start off with, rather than beginning with the entire salary system. Automation is an incremental process and the cloud can be a critical part of that equation.
2. Make it an organization-wide solution
Rather than deploying HR-specific automation tools, universal solutions can help streamline processes between employees and management, but also between departments. Through a single service portal dashboard, employees can request flights and travel, order a new ID card, submit time-off requests and more. With the proper tools in place, employees can create their own direct service requests, cutting down the workflow time and eliminating the middlemen. Top solutions can streamline service management, keeping requests for IT, HR and other departments in a central location.
3. Ease of use in modeling business processes
Automating HR service delivery via a service catalog can help to ensure that HR activities are modeling business processes. A service catalog describes not only each service and its attributes, but its objectives. This intelligence can help to ensure that the services offered are closely aligned with critical business strategies, and can contribute to the achievement of key corporate goals. Once the service catalog has been set up to ensure business processes are being modeled and compliance needs are met, automation can be introduced to make service delivery easier.
4. Collaboration through visibility
Collaboration can’t begin until there is a strong understanding of processes and operations across departments. From there, organizations can create a tailored solution that seamlessly integrates from department to department, as well as employee to employee.
Through a better understanding of how requests and services are managed throughout a business, leaders can set up tools that are tailored to fit the company’s unique needs. For human resources, automation is the next step, following the standards set by today’s IT departments. Offering employees a consistent and easy method for submitting service requests, and then fulfilling those requests efficiently, will put businesses ahead of competition by maintaining a workplace where employees are happier and are provided the resources they need to do their best work.
2. Boyson: HR Business Decisions Should be Fact-based
The Managing Director, SHRM, Middle East and Africa, Mr. Brad Boyson, spoke to journalists on the need for human resource professionals to be ready to contend with the role technology is playing across sectors in the current global economy. Raheem Akingbolu brings the excerpts:
This conference is holding in Nigeria at a time when the economy has been challenging and experts tell us it is beginning to recover. Is there a silver bullet HR can use to help the country back at on its feet?
Around the world, when economic times are difficult, usually, the first activity organisations cut is training or reduced investment in skilling people. But business history shows that the organisations that go against this trend and sustain or increase their people investments during times of economic downturns, eventually turn out to be better positioned and take advantage of newly emerging opportunities when the economy turns for the better. The significance of an event such as this, therefore holding in Nigeria, is its timeliness, with the right content to help HR prep their organisations to deal with the challenges of operating in Nigeria today. For instance, HR people need to be the advocates for sustained investment in the area of talent development, even in difficult economic times as the country is currently passing through. This will ensure their organisation’s competitiveness as things take a turn for the better.
The focus of this 2017 conference is around future-readiness of HR professionals. What does it take to run a HR department that is truly future-ready?
It starts with the HR talent running your HR department or division. At SHRM, we believe that the foundation of professionalism in the Human Resource function is an ability to demonstrate mastery in core HR disciplines while being able to translate these into real value for the business or organisation you work in. To demonstrate mastery, you need HR Competence and the universal depicter of HR mastery and competence today is experience, supported with the right professional qualifications because with these two, you are proving to the professional community that you understand the right ways, tools, processes and methods to make HR work for the organisation, not the other way round. SHRM’s emphasis on demonstrable competence can also be understood from the perspective that the HR world is fast evolving. Today every single business decision generates a corresponding HR action or reaction. What is needed to be a success in HR today is different from what was needed in the past. To be a success in HR today and in the future, you need to be able to use data and analytics, you need to understand technology; you need to understand cultural changes in talent and the dynamics of people generally, you need to collaborate more across non-HR boundaries, you need to use metrics and benchmark more often. These are some of the things that are indicative of a Future-Ready HR professional of HR department.
Coming to your presentation at the conference with the title: ‘Business and Human Capital Challenges Now and in the Future’, can you provide a recap of the key issues you discussed in the course of your presentation?
Often we HR people use a lot of clichés and clichés can sometimes undermine. Non-HR people don’t often connect with clichés. So, at this conference, I have tried to present some of the issues without the cloak of clichés such that delegates are able to focus on the real issues that prepare people working in HR as future-ready HR professionals. Sometimes, we HR people use buzz words, meaning nothing to the people in the business that we support, this leads to HR being seen as a cost rather than a value adding function. So, in my presentation, I tried to give examples of things that are evolving, not to scare people but to let them know how the dynamics of HR profession is changing very fast. I have discussed some of the things that are changing and some of the things that will happen in the future. There is no speculation about this and professionals need to focus on those issues. Today, so many HR people are reactive when they should be proactive. They are reactive to employee issues; they react to funding issues among others, which should not be. HR people need a change for the future they want to develop and we need HR people that will be thinking and making forecast on what will happen in that future. We need HR people to be able to make statements that are evidence or empirically-based. Today, a good indicator of HR that is working well is one that doing things that affect productivity, like doing away with traditional performance reviews and yet achieving better employee engagement with people, causing overall productivity to rise. That is creative HR; that is what we call future-ready HR.
What are the opportunities SHRM is offering for its members?
SHRM welcomes HR professional from all cadres. Our members are from the Executive suite as Chief HR Officers (CHROs) and HR Directors, to entry level positions, even non-HR people whose jobs contain a bit of HR, are already embracing SHRM membership in great numbers. A good example is Administrators. SHRM members come with different backgrounds, many are in the different industry segments in Nigeria, and most serve in organisations of 50-100 staff size, and some are in organisations with 500 or more staff strength. As you can expect, their needs vary so we work very hard to meet the needs of many of our members globally. SHRM advocates for the profession, stressing the importance of human resources. Through our programs and initiatives we act as ambassadors for HR people, setting the agenda for developing standards in the practice of the profession. We are the go-to resource for everything human resources. When our members and HR professionals need professional guidance, we provide that, they want resources? We provide resources. It is just like a partnership in the career journey. We are a global association with support for the full spectrum of the HR value chain. We do one thing only and do it well. We do not focus on IT, finance or the likes. We focus just on the HR practitioner. SHRM opens doors. Our research, knowledge base and intellectual properties help our members give their best today while at the same time being ready for the changing landscape in HR practice. If you are an employer of labor and you employ someone with SHRM Credentials the difference shows immediately. Our members consistently deliver value to the organisations they work for; this is what our research continues to show.
What is your perception on the use of data analytics in Middle East and in Africa?
One fascinating thing about data analytics is that it has nothing to do with technology but today, we have to incorporate technology into doing it. Analytics has been important before the technology was important. Data analytics give facts, objective opinions and figures. When applied in HR, it is not an accounting or mathematical procedures. One of the easy examples is insights to common questions as: do we recruit some roles internally or use outside recruiting firm? And how do you know which option is right or wrong? For data and analytics to work for you, you have to start with collecting data, you measure activities. What is happening to HR now with data and analytics is that just by introducing a little science into HR, we are getting a lot of AHA! moments, we can see reasons why certain things work, and also achieve some levels of predictability that wasn’t there before for HR. Google is a fascinating case study. In anything it does, it involves data & analytics. No one makes decision in business based on just instinct anymore, but more of facts and insights.
Is it easier today to be an HR professional than it was 20 years ago when it was simply referred to as personal management?
Interesting question! I think it is more difficult now because HR practice is now very diverse and the environment very complex. Successful HR practice would require you to be first, a business person, then a counselor, an advisor, activist, finance specialist, a bit of a parent, also an advocate – all rolled into one. And of course being passionate about people makes it worthwhile and enjoyable. Twenty years ago, being in HR for many was largely accidental, some people ended up in HR because they had no where else to go, or simply because they had great people skills. Others arrive on the wings of exposure and how kind-hearted the person could be without doing any real job. That is the universal approach to people working in HR 20-30 years ago. Organisation cannot afford that any more. Things have changed. The key attributes and competencies you need to succeed in HR are now known.
As SHRM executive, what would you consider the topmost trend in the Human Capital Management space that C-level executives should track together with HR?
I am not answering this based on just evidence. I am drawing from the multitude of interactions I make at the C-level and with a lot of different experts on the subject. I think technology is the trend to embrace and watch if you run a business and if you work in HR. It is changing the landscape in ways that humankind has never before thought possible. Whether it is Artificial Intelligence (AI), social media, blockchain technology, machine learning, etc. AI has reached such levels today that certain work done by humans can now be done by machines with a high degree of accuracy. It is no longer the future; that future is here now. At SHRM, we are investing heavily in how HR can be at the fore front of figuring out the implications for a business in the new frontiers of man-machine interaction at the workplace. HR is an essential part of managing all of these changes.
Globally, automating HR processes is replacing the old way of practicing HR. How best do you think practitioners can brace up to this trend brought about by advancement in technology?
This is my personal answer to that question. Anything that can be automated was probably never HR in the first place. That thing could possibly be classified as administration, albeit HR Administration. Just because an HR person did some work doesn’t just make that work HR work. HR embracing technology is not even an option, it is a do it or suffer kind of scenario, which is why SHRM is supporting our members with resources on how to start and sustain the technology journey. From having a HR Technology strategy, to selecting and implementing a Human Resource Information System (HRIS), the best professionals pride themselves in the systems they have put in place to handle routine administrative HR tasks, freeing them up to do more creative and strategic HR work, which is where value is best delivered to our organisations. So do not fear technology, get guidance on what will work best for your organisation and start the journey. If you don’t have technology employed in your HR environment certain productivity aspirations may not be possible.
Nigeria has humongous human resources that can be adequately harnessed to make us a competitive nation. What are your thoughts on how to activate the power of our human capital for national advantage?
I live in a region that is probably more challenged than Nigeria – The Middle East. The Middle East has the largest ratio of young people unemployment in the whole world even more than Africa. In the United Arab Emirates, the government has embraced the youth. Embracing, sort of a more open attitude towards globalisation and soco-cultural revitalisation of the youth.
Nigeria is a unique country, her people are some of the most talented the world over. And I think there are a lot of opportunities to see that the vast amount of youthful talent the country is blessed with can be harnessed for national advantage. I feel that government should enable more people in the youth segment to turn their creativity into capital because they have proven with music, entertainment and the movie industry for instance, that without government intervention certain productive work can be birthed. But this is just one aspect.
For a problem as big as that we find that government can enable, act as a catalyst and get out of the way, then individual entrepreneurial spirits will drive the rest. Environment is important and as more and more of the right environments are created, people will find work, start meaningful careers and contribute to national growth. I hear the government now has a focus on the ease of doing business, and this is encouraging because the index is an essential part of creating that environment and atmosphere that will let people thrive. A country with an open policy that embraces globalisation and also tries competing at the global level has a better chance of engaging the youth competitively.
3. Profile: DP Singh: Building careers is not a 100 m dash, but a marathon
The journey started almost four decades back when Dilpreet Singh or DP Singh, as he is known to all, was graduating and preparing for the central services examination. It was then that he came across an article in a US publication, about how CHROs grow up to become CEOs in the future. Inspired, he decided to make a career in HR.
An extremely successful, yet humble HR leader, DP Singh started his HR journey 37 years ago, as a frontline HR executive, and rose up the corporate levels to his present position of vice president & HR head-India/SA at IBM. Soon after he finished his graduation, he led HR for the marketing division of an automobile giant, which was then well-known for its people practices. “It helped me understand the role and impact that the customer and marketplace play on business, and of course, it built my confidence to work as an empowered professional.”
By 1985, he was leading the HR for one of the manufacturing locations of the same company. This gave him much exposure enabling him to handle larger and more complex situations. Early on in his career, he had the opportunity to gain experience in labour relations and plant workforce implications that also included tripartite labour settlements.
Singh shares that the next chapter in his career was at an agrochemical firm, where he learnt and handled the dynamic changes of downsizing and scaling, and the complexities related with workforce re-balancing within different businesses of the company. There, he also got the opportunity to collaborate with various global professionals, who were the company’s joint venture.
“In 2000, I became a consultant and this was a particularly exciting part of my career. However, being the HR leader for MEA at IBM in Dubai gave me the experience to lead HR in a multicultural environment, as I worked with employees from 26 countries,” Singh shares. By the end of this role, he had garnered immense experience, working with employees from across 70 nationalities, before moving to lead HR for IBM India/ South Asia.
- Develop a high learning quotient, while being open to unlearn and relearn.
- Possess and exhibit an ownership mindset.
- Trust will always get you trust. Be inclusive, and share your expertise.
- The more you share, the more you will get in return.
- Never forget to learn and know your business, as that is imperative to success of all the actions and decisions that you may take during your career.
In all these years, the one thing that helped Singh in his consistent growth was the fact that he kept a keen eye on the pulse of business and felt that it enabled him to get better at his job making him a superior HR leader. Reflecting on his journey, be it in the enterprise space or the entrepreneurial one, Singh says, “I have been open to learning from the marketplace, competition, leaders, my team and everyone around me.”
Splitting his learning into three phases, he shares that he learnt the importance of ethics and integrity, mutual respect, dignity of labour, listening to people and being inclusive, in his formative years. “In the second phase, I imbibed the skills to manage scale, deal with diverse people, the need for a strong culture and importance of leadership for the growth of an organisation,” he says. His recent learning, however, includes working with people across geographies, appreciating diverse cultures, leveraging analytics for business insights, and transforming personally to leverage social and digital technologies.
Singh believes that some of his learning has come from outside the job — from his theatre engagements, which taught him patience and adaptability. Singh, who speaks at various forums, feels that this adds humility to his personality, enabling him to see how knowledge sharing adds to self-growth.
A true leader at heart, Singh has faith in co-creation. He says, “It is not about who gets the credit, but the credibility of the idea that matters to the organisation. In my experience, ideas and work, owned jointly by a team, always succeed. Appreciating people for their work, being transparent with feedback without impacting the self-worth of a team member in front of their peers and appreciating the outstanding contribution of a team member is something that, I say with conviction, is the best way to empower people.” While this leads to mutual respect, transparency, acceptance of each other, it also nurtures a culture of innovation.
According to Singh, every significant shift in his career brought in new challenges and new learning that developed his professional expertise. What led him to be successful in each of these stages was an understanding of the business reality and working to find practical solutions to complex situations. “Hard work; continuous learning; putting in place processes; seeking help; thinking out of the box; exposing my vulnerability to my teams; leveraging technology; not compromising on ethics; and taking calculated risks helped me overcome many work-related and workplace challenges. Finally, it was the quality of the talent in my team that made me succeed,” he states.
At IBM, Singh has been able to implement and leverage technology into HR practices. This has resulted in efficiency and effectiveness, while adding to the experience of an employee. Singh asserts, “Rethinking workforce strategies and employee innovation during turbulent times is always important.”
He suggests that a pertinent question HR professionals need to constantly ask themselves is, “How can I do this better and differently, such that it is meaningful in the future and helps make a difference?” After all, talent is one of the most important elements in ensuring the continuous success of a company. Singh, a harbinger of technology in HR, firmly believes that, “As organisations go through the digital shift, HR leaders need to take the lead in digitising the HR functions.”
With technology changing the entire landscape of how HR functions, Singh advises that HR professionals need to have an open mind, be experimental and remain committed to continuous learning. “They have to adopt the attitude of working to learn and not just learning to work,” he says. Adopting new techniques—of working; leveraging data to provide insights; being transparent— is the way to go in the current times. “They cannot just say ‘trust me’; they need to show outcomes and behaviours, such that they can be ‘trusted’,” he adds.
A constant learner, Singh believes in hard work, persistence and continuous skill building. “One must see building careers not as a 100 metre dash, but as a marathon. Good careers are built on a strong foundation. So, focus to build the fundamentals. And as you rise in your career, focus on your strengths. It is much easier to leverage yourself with this approach,” he says.
It is his passion for work, a positive mindset and complete faith in his teams that help him sail through, even during tough times. “The other thing that keeps me going is my family support, be it my mother, wife or children. They are very understanding and play a big role in making me comfortable when they sense stress,” Singh shares.
Singh now endeavours to write more, and may even publish a book. He revealed his interest to do something in the area of education in the future— either by teaching or helping an educational institution to grow and set higher standards within the respective industry.
Singh’s motto in life is—“Enabling people to work on their strengths, be open to learn from all; be respectful; be transparent; and create an energetic and enabling work environment.”
4. Saved—Or Sunk—By the Job Description?
A job description identifying essential job functions can be an employer’s best friend—if drafted correctly.
Two recent cases illustrate the importance of accurate job descriptions. Eddy Reyes was a sales representative for a beverage distribution company, visiting multiple accounts daily, selling and taking inventory, collecting funds, making deposits, placing advertising posters, and making calls on prospective customers in New York.
Following an auto accident, he applied for and was granted Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. About eight weeks later, in anticipation of Reyes returning to work, the company sent Reyes’ job description to his doctors and asked that they advise of any restrictions. The job description detailed his sales responsibilities, but in the “Required Knowledge Skills / Abilities” section, made no mention of any physical skills such as walking, standing, pushing or pulling. Rather, it focused on customer service skills such as industry and product knowledge, and oral and written communication skills. Reyes thereafter provided medical documentation that he could return to work full time but “should refrain from prolonged walking, standing, running or jumping.” The employer advised him his previous positon was no longer available but it would find a new position for him in three to four weeks.
That was a mistake. Under the FMLA regulations, an employer can only condition an employee’s return to work on a fitness for duty for a specific job if the employer provided a list of the essential functions of the job with the FMLA designation notice, i.e., within five days of having enough information to determine whether the leave was being taken for an FMLA-qualifying reason. Reyes’ employer, however, first provided a list of the essential functions of Reyes’ job, in the form of his job description, approximately eight weeks after Reyes was granted FMLA leave. The court in Reyes v. Phoenix Beverages, Inc. noted that the employer could not rely on its standard policy, applicable to all sales representatives who took leave for a medical condition, that they get a medical release stating they could return to full duty without restrictions. Rather, the court said, if the employer wanted to require Reyes to obtain a certification of fitness to return to a specific job, it should have timely provided a list of the essential functions of that job.
Initially, the court also noted that Reyes’ job description did not include any physical skills relating to Reyes’ restrictions and, as such, held that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether prolonged walking or standing were essential functions of Reyes’ specific job. On reconsideration, the court said that the testimony of Reyes’ supervisor and Reyes himself concerning Reyes’ job duties, counterbalanced against the job description—which did not list any physical limitations—created an issue of fact as to whether prolonged walking or standing were essential functions of Reyes’ job. As a result, the court rejected the employer’s request for summary judgment in its favor and allowed the case to proceed to trial. Had Reyes’ job description stated prolonged walking and standing were required skills or abilities, the court may have ruled differently.
The employer in Green v. BakeMark USA, LLC fared better, because the evidence—including a job description—made clear the employee could not perform the essential functions of the job. Brian Green was an operations manager responsible for directing and coordinating all warehouse activity, including interacting with department associates, overseeing transportation operations and personnel to ensure timely deliveries, reviewing weekly reports, maintaining the sanitation and physical condition of the warehouse, and performing other general supervisory tasks.
Green claimed his employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it failed to accommodate his disability by allowing him to work only four hours a day. However, testimony from management and Green both made clear the job required at a minimum 50 hours a week, and the written job description emphasized the position’s full-time nature by stressing the “supervisory responsibilities.” The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling in favor of the employer.
The takeaway: Keep job descriptions current and accurate. If the job description is out of date when an employee seeks FMLA leave, create a current and accurate list of essential job functions, indicate in the designation notice that the employee will be required to submit a fitness for duty certification addressing his or her ability to perform his or her specific job, and provide the list of essential job functions with the notice.
5. Giving new moms a break: Employers slow to accommodate nursing mothers
Employers have been legally required to accommodate nursing mothers for several years, but many women still face barriers in returning to work if they wish to breastfeed their newborns.
The Break Time for Nursing Mothers requirement in the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2010. It amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require reasonable break times to express breast milk for 1 year after birth.
Companies with 50 or more employees must allow a “reasonable” break each time the employee has need to express in a private space other than a bathroom, shielded from view and intrusion from coworkers and the public. Breaks do not need to be paid, and the law only applies to hourly workers. Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico also have additional laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace.
A study, however, found that about five years after the requirements took effect, fewer than half of eligible mothers had access to the required break time and space. But noncompliance can bring enforcement actions from the U.S. Department of Labor, not to mention increased turnover and reduced employee productivity.
Eating at mom’s place
The case for breast milk is strong. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes optimal health and nutrition starts with exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. And after that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends continued breastfeeding through the first year of a baby’s life. A 2016 Breastfeeding Report Card issued by the CDC indicates most mothers agree, and start off nursing their children at birth. But the numbers fall drastically over time:
- 81.1% of women begin breastfeeding at birth
- 51.8% of infants are breastfed at 6 months of age
- 30.7% of infants are breastfed at 12 months of age
The drop in nursing rates cannot be solely attributed to workplace issues, but a welcoming employer could make a difference.
Are U.S. employers welcoming nursing mothers in their facilities? The data from that 2015 survey, Listening to Mothers III, suggests not. When researchers asked mothers about their access to lactation facilities and breaks, 40% reported they had access to both break time and private space. Forty-five percent said they had access to a space that wasn’t a bathroom.
The study noted salaries made a striking difference. Women whose household income was between $53,301 and $102,000 were twice as likely to have access to private facilities and breaks as their lower paid counterparts. And women whose household income was larger than $102,000 were three times as likely to have access time and breaks.
The study also found that access translated to use. Women who had an adequate space available were more than twice as likely to continue nursing their child through 6 months, compared to women without workplace access. Women with adequate space and time were also 1 ½ times more likely to continue breastfeeding each additional month, compared to women without workplace access.
For lower income workers, the lack of access is contrary to encouragement from private and governmental agencies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently posted its recommendations for parents receiving financial aid through the The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Their belief: breastfeeding is a priority. They’ve trained their staff to “promote breastfeeding and provide the necessary support new breastfeeding mothers and infants need for success.” Fifty-three percent of all infants in the U.S. are served by WIC. Yet for women in this income bracket, access in the workplace is markedly lower.
There are many advantages to employers who follow the law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration reports a variety of benefits for employers who support expressing in the workplace:
- less time off for breastfeeding employees;
- reduced health care costs;
- reduced turnover;
- higher employee loyalty and productivity; and
- a positive, family-friendly corporate culture.
Access to lactation breaks and adequate facilities can be a win-win for both employers and staff. The minor, temporary accommodations needed to be a family-friendly workplace can provide real savings and promote a culture of inclusion.
What’s an employer to do?
For many employers, awareness of the law and the benefits of accommodation are the first steps in making a workplace lactation-friendly. Losing an employee is costly, in both resources and productivity, but assisting a new mother with her choice to breastfeed her child for the first year could reap a long-term, committed staffer. Below are ways to help.
- Transform unused areas like a storage facility into a temporary space.
- Lend out a manager’s (or an unused) office periodically during the day.
- Block off an area with a partition or a curtain.
- Allow staff to use their own vehicle or a company car.
- Allow employees to work from home, if possible.
- Allow employees to pump during existing break times.
- Allow employees to come in early or stay late to make up for time lost.
- Assign a floater staff member to cover breaks.
- Allow employees to bring phone or laptop with them when they express, if feasible.
- Allow for part-time return to work.
Shawntel Hebert, a partner with Atlanta’s Taylor English offers another creative solution: “Businesses that occupy a building with other businesses may be able to cooperatively designate a space in the building that employees of all of the businesses may use to express,” she said.
Such accommodations can help employers achieve compliance with the FLSA, but that may not be the only law to worry about. Failure to meet that law’s requirements may result in gender discrimination claims or violations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Hebert warned.
“Moreover, since women make up nearly half of the workforce (46.8% in 2015), it is incumbent on employers to offer amenities that will retain the best and brightest employees, which naturally includes women,” she said.
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(The articles above have been curated from various sources but not been edited by ICube staff)