How Flexible Work Arrangements Help Celebrate Our Diversity
Metro Atlanta is home to a richly diverse population. Over the last three decades in particular, the Atlanta area has become significantly more diverse, as the region was met with unprecedented rates of national and international migration. As of 2020, Metro Atlanta was the number 7 metro area nationally for net migration.
Metro Atlanta is an international city. As of 2018, nearly 14% of the Metro Atlanta population was foreign-born. Of foreign-born Metro Atlanta residents, the majority came from the Americas or Asia. In fact, the region’s Hispanic population is up from 2% in 1990 to 13% in 2020, while the Asian and Pacific Islander population quadrupled since 1990. Additionally, Georgia ranks in the top 10 states for net numbers of refugee resettlements, welcoming roughly 4% of all refugees to the U.S. in 2018.
Metro Atlanta is also diverse in its religious identities. In their Religious Landscape Study, Pew Research Center surveyed respondents from 22 major metropolitan areas across the U.S. about their relationship with religion. When asked about how important religion was in their adult lives, 59% of metro Atlanta residents said that it was very important – the third highest proportion of all 22 cities, behind only Dallas and Houston.
With so many people and countless cultural priorities and observances throughout the year, how can Metro Atlanta businesses signal to their employees that they value the needs of their personal lives?
With flexible work arrangements, businesses can communicate respect and honor the diversity of their teams, while also allowing their teams the opportunity to explore other cultures and experiences. Examples of flexible work arrangements include:
- Flexible scheduling: choosing what hours to work, usually around a few core hours during the workday (such as working 7 am – 3 pm instead of 9 am – 5 pm)
- Compressed work week: allowing employees to work longer days with a day off every so often (such as working four 10-hour days and having every Friday off)
- Telework: letting employees work from home, whether full or part time
Flexible work arrangements can communicate respect
Flexible work arrangements can signal to employees that their employers value their personal time and want them to have the opportunity to participate in whatever celebrations and observances that are important to them. In this way, it also shows employees that their employer trusts them to get their work done whether they are in the office or at home and regardless of the hours they work.
Flexible work arrangements can honor diversity
While personal cultural practices may feel disjointed from the workplace, an employee’s ability to participate in their culture outside of the workplace is directly impacted by what kinds of flexibility that workplace allows. If an employee consistently has to miss out on celebrations, they may become frustrated and leave that job – affecting the tone, talent and diversity of that team. And when some employees must constantly use their personal leave to cover key cultural observances while other employees’ cultural celebrations are recognized by the federal government, businesses can help to bridge the gap by creating space for employees to adjust their schedules without having to use personal leave.
Flexible work arrangements can create space for employees to experience new cultures
While flexible work arrangements have a lot of benefits for individuals with respect to their own cultural practices, they can also give employees the time to learn about new cultures, participate in other cultural observances and visit cultural heritage sites. Giving employees flexible options can allow them to explore cultural heritage in their own area. For example, across Georgia, there are over a dozen significant Native American cultural sites for employees to gain a greater understanding of and appreciation for the Native American community.
Here are some examples of how flexible work arrangements can signal value to members of our diverse Metro Atlanta community:
- Flexible schedules help employees adjust their daily schedule to account for practices and observations. For example, flexible schedules can help Muslim community members during Ramadan, when they may want to work earlier hours to combat fatigue from fasting later in the afternoon.
- Compressed work weeks allow employees to have the flexibility to take a day off to celebrate a significant holiday that is not counted as a federal holiday, such as the Chinese New Year.
- Telework allows employees to work remotely to visit family or friends during a holiday, such as giving someone the flexibility to travel and work from another location during the day while they visit family for Orthodox Easter (Pascha).
As 2022 approaches, consider proactively helping your employees integrate their work life with their personal life by creating flexible work arrangements. Not only will it help you improve employee morale and retention, but it will also help you to foster a work environment that is welcoming and values everyone.
Interested in getting started with flexwork at your business? Learn more.