Kim Shepherd is the CEO of Decision Toolbox
, a professional recruiting company. Most of Kim's employees work from home on flexible schedules and she shares her perspectives on this - as well as advice for other employers - in her interview.
Can you tell us a bit about your job?
I run a company with about 30 women, many of whom work from their home office. My role as CEO is to ensure the health of the company and to provide a virtual environment where they can succeed. Empowerment and work-life balance are cornerstones of Decision Toolbox.
What is your professional background?
I began as a television reporter in 1978 and continued in broadcasting through the late 80’s. I was looking for a career change and researched industries that I thought were underdeveloped. In 1990, I began working as a recruiter. In 1993, I transitioned to the design and construction of recruitment teams to meet various objectives. I found that building unconventional teams produced much better results.
Many employees at your company work on a flexible schedule. Can you talk about why you decided to structure your company this way, what benefits you see in doing this, and what are some specific steps and strategies you implement to make sure this works for your business?
ALL of my employees design and work their own schedule. They can opt to work 20 hours one week and 40 hours the next. They are not allowed to request a day off; rather, they just inform us and their clients when they are going to be unavailable. I intentionally hire very seasoned, mature professionals who do not require supervision.
Management is flipped so that we really report to the staff. Our job is to monitor and then provide any wisdom, tools, processes or money needed to make the recruiters more productive.
This model has resulted in nearly 100% retention. With the exception of a career change, there would rarely be a reason to leave Decision Toolbox.
What advice would you have for working moms who want to talk to their employer about working on a more flexible schedule?
Unless their role requires a physical on-site presence, they should tee up the conversation. Many employers simply have not thought through the concept of virtual workers. Perhaps a stair-stepped approach would make this easier for the employer to accept. Begin by trying one day a week, review that days’ productivity and add days each week.
Work-life balance and lack of flexibility are big issues for many employees, including moms, yet not many employers have embraced flexibility in the workplace. What perspectives can you share with them based on your experience?