“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
– Alvin Toffler

Family-Friendly Practices Strengthen Employer/Employee Relationships

In a previous post, we touched on the importance of considering the importance of managing people as people when building employer/employee relationships. In it, we discussed how employees’ lives outside of the workplace can often impact their performance on the job. Creating policies that are family friendly is one way to establish a consciousness about outside factors that affect employees’ lives.

Doing so benefits everyone: employers have fostered an environment that attracts engaged and dedicated employees, and employees, in turn, know they have the security to maintain work-life balance.

US companies trending more towards family-friendly practices

In the past year, there has been a shift in federal employers to instill more family-friendly policies. President Obama has advocated strongly for legislation that provides six additional weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees. While the policy is not government mandated, many companies in the United States, such as Netflix, have taken to implementing it and other family friendly policies, which have yielded great benefits including a drop in attrition rates for female employees.

Studies in the UK have shown a reduction in turnover due to the implementation of family friendly policies. More specifically, policies that involve job share, flexible work environments, and childcare assistance. Studies have also noted an increase in employee performance. It is also important to note that most companies with policies in place have a large proportion of women and in larger organizations. Companies of larger sizes usually have greater resources at their disposal, but it is still very plausible for smaller companies to also embrace flexible and family-friendly practices.

Common practices already found in companies

Transparent and well-planned time off policies: Companies who are serious about incorporating these kinds of practices plan ahead. By creating and communicating the intentions to accommodate for maternity leave, sick leave, family leave, or any other unexpected absence, companies are openly declaring the importance of employees’ lives outside of work.

Childcare assistance: This can be a fairly costly measure, and primarily seen in larger corporations, but provisions for childcare assistance can benefit the company in many ways. Not only can employees spend time with their children during the day, but there could also be fewer instances of employees having to take time off work. And new mothers could potentially return to work sooner.

Flexible work environment: Many companies offer the opportunity to work on 9/80 schedule or have days in which employees can work from home. Having a fluid structure when setting up an employee’s job schedule goes a long way.

Job share or part time opportunities: Many of those in the workforce would like the ability to split their time between work and other responsibilities in their lives. The opportunity to job share or work part time by allocating the responsibilities and work time of one job between at least two employees allows the employees more flexibility and proves cost efficient for the employer.

Employee events that are meant for the entire family: This may seem obvious, but hosting company events for the whole family or providing a babysitting service, so parents can bring children to the event is a great way to include the whole company and build camaraderie outside of work.

Work-life balance is important, and part of maintaining that is ensuring employees their life outside of work doesn’t have to stop when they enter the office. Many employers in this country have provided tangible evidence of their steps made towards prioritizing work-life balance by implementing a few of the flexible and family-friendly policies listed above. Governments worldwide are making changes that go beyond what we’ve discussed today, but the United States is definitely keeping up the pace.