Workplace

Group pushes for flexible workplaces in Kansas City

Wendy Doyle, CEO of the Women’s Foundation, joined others in announcing a Kansas City initiative to promote flexible workplaces.
Wendy Doyle, CEO of the Women’s Foundation, joined others in announcing a Kansas City initiative to promote flexible workplaces. stafford@kcstar.com

Kansas City has long been known as a great place for working families. Now it’s time to “put a little more meat on the bone,” Mayor Sly James exhorted Thursday.

The mayor joined Wendy Doyle, CEO of the Women’s Foundation, and officers from the Kansas City chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management to launch in Kansas City “When Work Works.”

The effort is part of a national initiative that aims to educate and encourage employers to provide workplaces that work for today’s families.

Example? How about encouraging more workplace-based day care centers? That works for North Kansas City Hospital, said Jill Crutchfield, a human resource executive, where 130 children are enrolled in the hospital’s on-site day care.

None of the program’s goals are new, Doyle acknowledged. But research by the Women’s Foundation has proved that the message about attracting and retaining workers, especially those who have family care responsibilities, hasn’t permeated Kansas City organizations.

The initiative calls for workplaces to provide more flexibility in scheduling, work-from-home options and other means to better juggle work and home duties. It also notes that organizations benefit from retaining talent that otherwise might quit.

“We want to drive economic development by responding to workers’ needs,” Doyle said.

James said paid parental leave and affordable child care are among priorities. The city needs to “get a bit of competitive social engineering going here” by encouraging employers to benchmark their human resource policies and practices against other employers.

Stacie Engelmann, a past president of the local human resource group, said studies show that employees in workplaces with flexible scheduling opportunities report more loyalty to the organization and “overall greater well-being” than employees who lack such benefits.

Other participants in the When Work Works campaign are the Central Exchange, the UMKC Women’s Center, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Greater Kansas City.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford

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