First Things First

How to Be a Family-Friendly Workplace

If you were a CEO or business owner, how could you help increase productivity, improve your bottom line and decrease employee turnover?

You might think it all boils down to money.  But what if the answer was to simply help your employees lead more fulfilling lives and be better family members?

In 2009, the Sloan Center for Aging at Boston College studied this topic.  Ninety percent of workers said that workplace flexibility moderately or greatly contributes to their quality of life.  And, a 2010 study of IBM employees suggests that telecommuting workers find it easier to balance work and family life.

Studies consistently indicate that a family-friendly workplace is the key to higher productivity and a better bottom line.  In October 2016, Working Mother magazine released its annual 100 Best Companies list.  The magazine asked these companies why they invested in work-life benefits such as on-site child care, flex time, job sharing and telecommuting.  The unanimous answer was, “It benefits the bottom line.”

More companies are seeing the advantage in adopting these practices.  However, only a small percentage of U.S. companies have included family-friendly policies into their benefits package.  Some companies cite cost as a reason for not doing so.

Professors from Stanford, the University of Munich and the London School of Economics conducted extensive research to see if family-friendly workplace practices are worth the money.  The result? Family-friendly firms saw an impact in areas such as employee retention, improved attitudes and behaviors.  Interestingly, the amount of money spent equaled the financial benefit derived from these policies.  According to the researchers, family-friendly workplace practices may not increase profits, but they at least pay for themselves.

There is a downside to not adopting family-friendly workplace policies. The Business Case for Work-Family Programs reports that employees who experience work-family conflict are three times more likely to think about quitting their jobs than those who do not have that conflict. And according to Working Mother magazine, turnover from work-family issues costs companies about three times the job’s annual salary for an executive or managerial position.  The cost is one and a half times the salary for line positions.  Hidden expenses such as delays and training time also affect the bottom line.

You can take steps to make your company more family-friendly. When implementing these policies, make sure you communicate with and include workers at all business levels.

October is National Work and Family Month.  It’s a month nationally recognized by businesses, academic institutions, federal agencies, members of Congress, work-life advocacy groups and individuals who want to make it easier for employees to succeed at work and at home.  How is your organization’s work-life effectiveness?

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