What led you to author your book “Flex?”
This was a (no pun intended) 30-year labor of love based on my observations of successful and not so successful businesses and how they address and adapt to change. I wanted to provide a real-world market-based guide for businesses to harness the power of change that would increase employee satisfaction and secure long-term success in the marketplace.
Where did the title “Flex” come from? Is it an acronym? Does it simply refer to being flexible?
I originally thought about the word “pivot” as the title but I think it is overused and, in my mind, connotes standing still. You can pivot and be in the same place. Flex suggest a willingness and ability to change and adapt, and a pragmatism that is necessary in today’s very rapidly changing business and social environment.
Can you share a high-level overview of your “Flex” and how the concepts outlined in your book are important for HR, legal and business leaders to keep top-of-mind for success?
It is critical now more than ever to understand how today's trends are shaping tomorrow’s labor force. As seismic shifts continue to change America's world of work in unprecedented ways, HR professionals, lawyers and really all current and future C-suite executives must adapt to the rapidly evolving workplace using creative solutions for recruiting, engaging, and retaining a skilled workforce. Forward-thinking leaders who respond quickly to the new business environment will attract more talent, win more customers, and gain greater profits than those who make assumptions based on what has worked in the past.
How can business leaders be prepared for disruptions – like COVID-19 – that will inevitably continue to arise in the American workplace?
A key element outlined in “Flex” is a willingness to remain creative and to continuously ‘take stock’ in where you are and where you would like to be. Saxby’s coffee, a case study in the book, is a great example of a company that has continuously reinvented itself or flexed based on closely paying to attention to both societal and business changes.
Why is it important for leaders to have a game plan to address tensions that may arise in the workplace in light of today’s cultural revolutions?
Without a game plan, you will be left behind. I believe that good planning is what allows for flexibility. Think about a football team that has a good game but then can adjust to meet the changes that occur whether through injuries or the elements, etc. Without a baseline you are left floundering. Changes are occurring so rapidly you will be unable to adapt to the unforeseen changes that will inevitably occur.
If I were a small business owner seeking insight for managing my workplace how would this book help me?
In many ways, smaller businesses, by necessity, are better able to flex in the face of change. Even so, regulatory changes, social changes and things like the pandemic all impact business regardless of size. The book was written for all types of businesses and business leaders without regard to the size of the organization. The lessons are universal.
What big picture trends do you anticipate in the workplace in 2021?
I believe the pandemic is a game changer. Depending on when we return to some sense of normalcy, we can expect to see challenges as businesses and employees adjust to the concept of remote work on a long- term basis, as well as more robust discussion around paid family leave programs. Climate change can longer be ignored and more and more business leaders are recognizing that they need to be part of the solution.
Rick Grimaldi is a partner at Fisher Phillips, one of America’s preeminent labor and employment law firms representing employers, where he works with companies both large and small on solving their most complex workplace challenges. Rick has served in high-ranking public service positions, worked as a human resources professional, and spent years in private practice partnering with companies to help them adapt to the ever-changing business environment, achieve their workplace goals and become better employers that are ultimately rewarded by the market.