Businessman dancing and looking at laptopWhat begins with the letter “F” and is the desire of most employees during the workday? This helps workers smile, cuts down on stress and makes for a much more positive work experience.

Say it with me: Workers just want to have fun flexibility.

In fact, data from shows that 73 percent of working adults agree that flexibility is “one of the most important factors they consider when looking for a new job or deciding what company to work for.” In the age of freelancing, temp workers and entrepreneurial startups, more and more workers are demanding flexibility—and it’s not to solely benefit life at the office.

A recent infographic revealed that 63 percent of working mothers are single and 71 percent of working moms have children ages 18 and younger. Today, flexible working conditions don’t just benefit an employee, but his or her entire family. And because of the increase of working parents, you’d think there would be some type of law by now to push for a more flexible workplace.

Well, I have good news: A new initiative is on the scene.

The Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance was created to help working parents and caregivers receive the option of more flexible schedules. And to give us a further look into this new initiative, spoke with CEO of Great Place to Work, China Gorman.

With more than 30 years in the HR industry, Gorman understands just how important flexibility is for not only workers, but an entire organization. Read on to discover what she had to say about the new ordinance and the benefits of a flexible work environment:

1. Can you offer readers a brief background on the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance?

According to the 2010 Census, San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children of any city in the U.S. In an effort to curb the flight of families from the city, the President of the Board of Supervisors introduced the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, which was unanimously approved last month by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

When the ordinance goes into effect on January 1, workers at companies with 20 or more employees in San Francisco will have the right to request flexible schedules if they are parent or a caregiver of a spouse or elderly parent. The ordinance also protects employees from discrimination based on their status as a caretaker or parent.

The employer can reject a request in writing for “good faith” business reasons; an example would be if the request would increase the company’s cost of doing business. But even if the request is rejected, employees will still have an opportunity to appeal the decision.

Similar legislation has been passed for the State of Vermont, as well as in the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia, which speaks to the growing recognition that flexible work scheduling is an effective way to support workers who have caretaker responsibilities.

2. Now that this ordinance has found its way to America (San Francisco and Vermont’s similar law), how do you think it will impact U.S. employers? Employees?

If their requests for flexibility are granted by employers, these employees will be better equipped to manage the competing demands of caretaking and holding down a job—resulting in a more satisfied, less stressed group of workers.

Among FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For, the vast majority offer flexible scheduling options. It’s no coincidence that turnover at the 100 Best Companies is as low as half that of their industry peers. With flexible scheduling options, working parents and caretakers are not put in an “all or nothing” position where they have to choose between their jobs and their caretaker responsibilities. Turnover is an enormous cost to organizations, and this ordinance will help employers retain their employees who may otherwise leave.China Gorman

3. Why is workplace flexibility an important aspect of any job?

Offering flexibility is a way for employers to catch up to the realities of today’s world. We no longer live in an era where one parent is the primary breadwinner and the other parent stays home to manage the household. In 1975, nearly half of families with children consisted of a male bread winner and a stay-at-home mom; today, that number is one in five, and the number of single-parent households has doubled.

Through the use of communications technology, job sharing, part-time schedules, compressed work weeks, and other scheduling solutions, many workplaces have been able to successfully support employees with flexible work arrangements. This enables families that do not have a dedicated “stay at home” parent to keep up with the modern work demands.

4. Does offering flexibility benefit both employers and employees? Or is this more beneficial for workers?

By offering flexibility, employers enable modern families to meet the many demands that come along with both work and family life, resulting in less stressed and more satisfied workers, and ultimately, more valuable contributors to the business. And, because employees who have access to flexible schedules are not faced with an “all or nothing” approach to work, workplaces will be more likely to retain their valuable employees, which is an enormous benefit to businesses.

Want to learn more about the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance? Stay tuned for part 2 of this article!

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