More and more employers today strive to build a family-friendly workplace culture in order to help employees with children balance their work and life responsibilities. But it’s not just employees and their families who benefit from this emphasis — business with family-friendly cultures are better able to attract and retain talented employees who might balk at a job whose demands conflict with family commitments.
A Look at the Numbers
A LinkedIn study showed that almost half of American employees would pass on high-salary job offers in favor of greater flexibility. This sentiment is echoed by the Boston Globe, which reported that just over half of the respondents to a Bain & Company survey plan to put life commitments over career advancement.
While nonwork commitments can come in many forms, data shows that employees with children make up a considerable portion of the workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least one parent among 96.8 percent of married couples with children is employed, while both parents are employed in 61.1 percent of families with children.
Tools for a Family-Friendly Workplace
So if employers want to keep their current employees happy and productive and to attract new ones to the organization, a family-friendly workplace is a must. Here are five tools for building one.
- Paid parental leave: According to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 37 percent of employers of all sizes offer paid maternity leave and 24 percent provide paid paternity leave. If offering paid parental leave is in the cards, you’re well on your way to supporting your employees’ work-family commitments. Knowing that they can rely on a set amount of paid leave while caring for their new children will give employees peace of mind and see them return to work with a positive attitude toward their employer.
- Onsite child care: Providing onsite child care is another way to support a family-friendly environment. Knowing that their children are in safe hands without having to overextend their finances frees employees up to focus on doing good work. If offering onsite child care isn’t an option, consider establishing partnerships with daycare centers in your area.
- Job sharing: When two or more employees share a job by each working a part of the specified time, they’re able to allocate more time for their families’ needs without sacrificing workplace participation or productivity goals.
- Telecommuting opportunities: Allowing employees to work from home a few days a week can be a true gift for employees with children or aging parents. Working from home, employees can keep up with their bosses and colleagues via email, instant messaging or phone while at the same time remaining available to their families.
- Family bonding activities: Consider introducing regular activities where employees’ families can come together and play. The best times to organize family activities are around holiday periods, festivals and sporting events.
Tailoring Your Offerings
To understand which family-friendly initiatives would be most useful to your employees, poll them. While you may not be able to completely satisfy every employee’s needs, you can use responses to the survey to focus on the options that will provide the greatest benefit to your staff. And as your employees’ families grow, continue seeking feedback to ensure that your family-friendly offerings remain up to date.
Building a family-friendly workplace culture is a win-win. What you give to your employees in terms of work-life balance, you’ll earn back in productivity, satisfaction and a competitive recruitment edge.
Stay up to date on the latest health care regulations and trends for your small business: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.