Workplace flexibility practices are a business imperative that help employees meet their work and life responsibilities and help employers respond to the competitive global marketplace, the Society for Human Resource Management president told Congress today.

“The truth is that workplace flexibility is good for people. The business truth is that it’s good for the bottom line,” SHRM President and CEO Henry G. Jackson said at a briefing at the U.S. Capitol.

Flexible strategies, such as telecommuting, flextime, part-time work, job sharing and compressed schedules, boost productivity, increase employee engagement and morale, lower turnover and absenteeism and lower overhead costs, he said.

Jackson spoke during the congressional briefing “Creating a 21st Century Workplace for a 21st Century Workforce,” which was moderated by Kathleen Christensen of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, an expert on workplace flexibility. In an initiative to educate HR professionals on how to implement flexibility strategies,

Jackson said that current labor law hinders innovation. With outdated labor laws and a dramatically changing workforce, the United States needs a 21st century workplace flexibility policy that meets the needs of both employees and employers.

“Current labor laws have not kept pace with the evolving needs of today’s diverse, adaptable and mobile workforce,” Jackson said. “The HR profession advocates a flexibility policy that for the first time responds to the diverse needs of employees and employers, a policy that reflects different work environments, types of industries and organizational sizes.”

The 260,000-member SHRM has created a set of principles to guide the development of such a workplace flexibility public policy. The principles call for public policy that encourages employers to voluntarily offer paid leave and other flexible work options.

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