Have It Your Way…at Work?: Bringing Your Whole Self to the Office

Gone are the days when new mothers were the only ones to get paid extended leave from work. As work-life balance becomes something a diverse range of workers are striving for, it is becoming apparent to companies that working with employees to help them achieve a fulfilling work life and satisfying life outside of work is a very wise business decision. The local fast food restaurant is no longer the only place you can customize what you want and “have it your way.” With a flexible employer, this catchphrase can easily apply at work as well.

The plethora of benefits companies enjoy include more loyal and motivated employees, reduction in costs of turnover, the ability to recruit and retain diverse talent, and the opportunity to show their commitment to the pursuit of being an employer of choice.  Employees can expect the peace of mind of being able to customize one's career as priorities change over time, the ability to accomplish company’s work as well a one’s own goals, and the ability to work within a corporate lattice as opposed to corporate ladder enabling the individual to move in different directions to find interesting and satisfying roles.
 
Employers find that working with their employees inspires their employees to work better. With more options available for telecommuting, alternative career tracks, and family care, many people who may have otherwise chosen to work elsewhere or not at all are able to work in a way that makes sense for them and contributes positively and productively to the company’s goals.
 
At Tanenbaum, we believe that bringing one’s “whole self” to work includes individuals’ cultures, beliefs, and practices. Flexibility in a workplace can be extremely useful in addressing religious diversity in the workplace – especially with the holiday season coming up. For instance, perhaps a Jewish employee would like to work on Christmas in exchange for a paid holiday that they observe. Or perhaps a Muslim employee would like to take their lunch break after sunset to break their fast in observance of Ramadan. Workplace flexibility can be helpful, not only in accommodation, but in creating a culture of respect for all employees.
 
The recognition of the idea that one is able to bring the “whole self” to work is one that many employers could benefit from embracing. As discussed, a person’s identity is always multifaceted, from gender, to race, to religion, to sexual orientation, to age, to socio-economic status; a constellation of factors inform who a person is and what drives their aspirations. By recognizing and respecting the entire package and allowing workplace flexibility, employers reap the benefits of having satisfied employees who are loyal to the company and passionate about its mission.