White House Forum Flexible Workplace Practices Benefits Workers and Employers

Christine Nyholm's picture

In Washington D.C. on March 31, 2010, President and First Lady Obama hosted a the House Forum on workplace flexibility. In response to a changing American workforce, administration officials, small business owners, workers and business leaders discussed workplace practices. The White House announced a pilot program examining the benefits of flexibility in the workplace for some federal employees.

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and the White House Council on Women and Girls hosted the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility to discuss the importance of creating workplace practices that allow America’s working men and women to meet the demands of their jobs without sacrificing the needs of their families.

Flexibility in the workplace makes workplace employment more desirable, so that people can take care of family obligations, have a better quality of life and to be productive in their jobs. When choosing between jobs, a candidate is likely to consider flexibility as a benefit that makes the employers more desirable.

In conjunction with the forum, the President’s Council of Economic Advisers released a report presenting an economic perspective on flexible workplace policies and practices.  The report documents some of the changes in the U.S. workforce which have increased the need for flexibility in the workplace. Issues addressed included an increase in the number of women in the workplace, families where all adults work, care of elders in the family and the importance of continuing education.

Beyond the importance of flexibility to the workers, the report examines the economic benefits to the employers who offer flexibility, including reduced absenteeism, lower turnover, improved health of workers, and increased productivity. 

President Obama stated in the White House press release, "Workplace flexibility isn’t just a women’s issue.  It’s an issue that affects the well-being of our families and the success of our businesses. t affects the strength of our economy – whether we’ll create the workplaces and jobs of the future that we need to compete in today’s global economy." 

“Flexible policies actually make employees more – not less – productive,” said Mrs. Obama. “Instead of spending time worrying about what’s happening at home, employees have the support and the peace of mind they need to concentrate at work which is good for their families – and the bottom line.”

The Office of Personnel Management is also announcing a pilot program which incorporates some flexibility for government employees. The program will incorporate telework for some federal employees, who can experience the cost savings of not having to commute,particularly beneficial during snow storms and other emergencies

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, stated in a press release from the White House, ""Employers, including the federal government, will have to implement flexible work policies if they want to attract the best and the brightest," The President is committed to making sure that the federal government can compete for talent because he knows that good people produce better work, which in turn, leads to better service for the American people."

President Obama signed the the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, shortly after taking office. The act restores basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers. Obama also signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is delivering relief to working families across the country, including tax credits and child care assistance for working families.

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Written by Christine Nyholm


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