Northeastern CEO Breakfast: "More flex-time helps retain talent"

Speaking at Northeastern University’s CEO Breakfast, Murray Martin, CEO of Pitney Bowes, said employees who are offered greater flexibility become more engaged with their jobs, more productive and healthier.

“Personally, I don’t hide the fact that my family is important to me,” said Murray Martin, chief executive officer of Pitney Bowes Inc. “I don’t work on weekends.”

Nor does the CEO expect employees at the $6.3 billion company to always be at the beck and call of the office, he said.

Speaking at Northeastern University’s CEO Breakfast Nov. 12 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Martin described the changing attitudes and requirements for flexibility of today’s workforce, a group comprised of four generations: veterans, baby boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1977) and Generation Y (1978-).

As corporations prepare for a dearth in a talented workforce, some managers are heeding a worker ideal that cuts across all generations: better work/life balance, he said.

“For the veteran generation, they figure they’ve worked hard and have earned the right for more flexibility. Baby boomers are looking for more flexibility and structure to their workdays, and are rethinking their previously held ‘live to work’ philosophy. The Gen X employee works to live, and Gen Y just assumes there is flexibility. These workers want to make a difference in the world and strive to strike a balance between their work and external lives,” Martin said.

Companies wishing to attract and retain talented employees would be well-served to reconsider old-fashioned ideals that limit employee flexibility, he said. Acknowledging a trend that finds increasing numbers of workers tied to the office after hours through technological devices such as e-mail and Blackberries, Martin said studies have shown the over-worked employee is prone to illness, and on-the-job unhappiness.

“The corporate response is one that doesn’t really want to hear it,” Martin said. “But then (these corporations) can’t understand why they’re losing their best talent.”

At Pitney Bowes, the provider of mail processing equipment and integrated mail solutions, it has been discovered that employees who are offered greater flexibility become more engaged with their jobs, more productive and healthier, he said.

And that goodwill goes a long way toward stability in the workforce, he added.

“A company that offers flexibility enhances its own ability to compete for the best skilled employees,” Martin said.

Bill Bacic, New England managing partner of Deloitte and a member of the board of Northeastern Overseers, introduced Martin.