Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What do you mean, "The pants don't fit?"

Before you groan: this is not a post about dieting. Or exercising. Or any of those good health habits we all should work to incorporate into our lives.

This post is about fit.

If you walk into a clothing store and see that all the jeans are the same size--not yours--do you stick around and try them on? Do you stay and look through the store to see if it does have jeans in your size?

You find display of shoes that is a style you've been coveting for some time. But every pair you pick up is the same size--again, not yours. Are you a little bummed, perhaps a little unhappy, that the buyers for the store do not have enough foresight to purchase those shoes in other sizes? After all, the store just lost your potential sale, right?

All of us have experienced the occasion where we need a different size from what we had been wearing. Sometimes we find ourselves in that position even though we'd been the same size for years (decades? Okay, maybe not).

Why, then, do companies today still insist on having employees fit into the same mold simply because they share a job title or position description?

I just read a post concerning the continuing compensation inequity between genders. The post presents some interesting potential causes for the disparity and reminds me of some similar issues employers face today. Of course, compensation is important in the working world (and water is wet--sorry for stating the obvious). A bigger question rearing its head is the dissatisfaction some employees have with their one-size-fits-all positions.

This isn't about addressing accommodation needs for qualified individuals with disabilities, or making adjustments when employees need time off under a state or federal leave act. No, what companies are facing are requests such as the following:

My spouse has been transferred to a facility about two hours away. I enjoy working here, and I'd like to explore the possibility of telecommuting 2 or 3 days per week and being in the office the other days.

How would your company respond? If this is a position where presence is essential (think receptionist or support staff), you might not have a lot of room to move. The more difficult dilemma is where your company is facing this for the first time, and the immediate reaction is, "Well, we've never done that before, so there's no way this would work." Before some of you scoff at the archaic nature of this reaction, realize that it does take place. Often.

Are you missing out on potential good employees because your storefront gives the appearance that you only carry one size of shoes, jeans, compensation or job structure?

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