JCEP brings together leaders from six Extension professional organizations from across the national. It was a chance to learn from others’ experience and explore best practices.
The Family-Friendly Work Place theme explored relevant issues for Extension professionals as well as those we educate. A panel of human resource experts shared strategies, policies and trends related to family friendly workplaces. Some take-home messages and ideas include:
- Work-life balance is rated one of the most important workplace attributes, second only to compensation.
- Generational diversity is evident throughout the workforce. Understanding and respecting each group from the traditionalist to generations X and Y can help attract and retain the best people.
- Take a ‘bottom up’ approach not ‘top down’. Ask people what they need.
- Tools – Ask what are the tool you need to get the job done?
- Consider cross-training – creates greater flexibility to take time-off for family and increases team cooperation and flexibility.
- Do more ‘commercials’ of benefits. A benefit may not apply at time of hire but now does because of life changes.
Some family/work balance ideas/suggestions in round-table discussions for Extension to consider:
- Discussions on what to drop when something new is added
- Mandatory vacation
- Cross-training to increase team work and schedule flexibility
- Compensation/credit/recognition for overnight travel
- Adopt a ‘family matters’ philosophy top-down
- Explore new staffing models to meet generational diversity.
- Tuition benefits to pursue degrees across state lines (reciprocity)
- Support after illness
- Build in FUN
Eight hours of this conference was spent in professional Association meetings. As the Minnesota NEAFCS Affiliate President, I attended along with Mary Caskey, President-Elect. We spent some time brainstorming and talking about promoting and marketing the NEAFCS Living Well: More than a Cookbook reference book. The purpose of this book is to promote NEAFCS and provide financial security. See http://www.neafcs.org/ and Rosi Heins, NEAFCS, Minnesota Affiliate Living Well: More than a Cookbook representative at firstname.lastname@example.org ,(763) 767-3879 for more information.
The next JCEP sponsored event is PILD (Public Issues Leadership Development Conference). NEAFCS will be collecting impact information from each state regarding food safety educational efforts. The purpose is to feature NEAFCS professionals’ efforts in reducing the incidence of foodborne illness across the nation.