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blogging on high-commitment workplaces

The Dignity of Work: Transforming the One-Size-Fits-All Workhouse into a Custom-Fit Workplace

The inefficiency of slavery is now obvious, but to George Washington it came as a revelation. While on a visit to Philadelphia, Washington noticed that free men there could do in “two or three days what would employ [his slaves] a month or more.” His explanation—that slaves had no chance “to establish a good name [and so were] too regardless of a bad one”—was that of a practical man concerned with the bottom line, not that of a moralizer. Sadly for us, our first president did not draw the full implications of his insight. Had he done so, he might have used his immense prestige to end the indignity of slavery.

Admiring the High Performance Workplace

I just got back from a Dr. Pepper plant in Texas where managers told me about people laughing at work a lot more since they began the transition to becoming a High Performance Work Place (HPWP). As a person who has been writing a book about work practices that are good for both business and the individuals working for them, I was impressed. Manufacturing is not known for its fun factor.

I visited a plant in which workers feel respected. Workers in the plant are trusted to do what is best for their company as they go about their work and even share responsibility for hiring new people. This is a plant where workers and the company are doing well.

Our Government, A "Results Only Work Environment" Employer!

Last Wednesday I went to a half-day forum on workplace flexibility at the White House. This idea is a big deal, adjusting the structure of work to accommodate the true needs of workers and their families. And it would be a boost for our economy.

The forum opened with the First Lady telling us that in addition to having basic minimum policies to protect families like paid sick days and paid family leave, the modern workforce needs to be able to take care of responsibilities both at work and outside of work.....children for instance.

But what got my attention was President Obama's closing remarks: he announced that the government is going to transition 400 federal workers to a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). This means work is judged only on results, no clocking in or out, no need to ask for permission to go fishing or to a kid's soccer game. Workers are simply judged upon their successful completion of the job at hand.

Results Oriented Work Environment (ROWE) in the US Capitol

From Your (Wo)manInWashington blog

This week on the Hill, members of the Work, Family and Health Network presented their findings at a congressional briefing about the intersection of workplace policy and workers' health and well-being. When employees face conflict between work and family obligations, there is an increase in their stress level, greater risk of heart disease, and a decrease in their sleep duration. But that's not all - when things go badly with colleagues, the worker's family is affected as well. Children of stressed workers report spending less time with their parents, and they produce higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The old model of top down authority at work continues to lose ground.

Wal-Mart: Got Class? The Action is Tomorrow

Only a cynic would find irony in the Wal-Mart Foundation’s $2 million donation to Dress for Success.  I’m a cynic, and after you read this, you will be, too.

I love Dress for Success.  I love the idea of outfitting women returning to the workforce with flattering, confidence-building interview and work outfits. I loved them when I showed up with a minivan packed with plus-size clothes I had dieted out of, and 12 pairs of size-ten high heels  that I had tripped myself out of. (They get a lot of sizes 2 and 4. Bless their hearts.) And I love the goals of the Wal-Mart Foundation, which is trying to align itself with women’s economic independence.

Much of my firm’s work has the same aim. In fact, Wilson-Taylor Associates is named after my mom and mother-in law.  Both of them abruptly divorced just past their twenty-fifth wedding anniversaries and spent the next two decades working overtime to catch up economically. 

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