How to Be a Family-Friendly Workplace

Higher productivity and a better bottom line – it's worth the effort.
By Julie Baumgardner
September 10, 2017

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 a simple one? You can help your employees lead more fulfilling lives and be better family members by being a family-friendly workplace.

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 study of IBM employees suggests that telecommuting workers find it easier to balance work and family life.

Studies show that a family-friendly workplace is a 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 answer was, “It benefits the bottom line.”

More companies are seeing the advantage of these practices. However, only a small percentage of U.S. companies have family-friendly policies in 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 investigated 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, and healthier 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’s 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.

  • Offer child care in the workplace and encourage both parents to utilize it. Employee child care centers allow workers to be near their children during the day.
  • Offer flex-scheduling so parents can participate more in their child’s schooling, doctor appointments, social activities, etc. Giving employees more control over when and where they do their jobs is an important element of reducing the work-family conflict. It allows the employee to feel better about his or her job because it is not taking away from family time.
  • Develop family-friendly policies for both parents that cover arrangements for the birth of children or a family illness.
  • Survey employees to assess their needs. This provides a clearer picture of what families need and cuts down on wasted time and energy creating unneeded programs.

If you’re interested in making it easier for employees to succeed at work and at home, it may be time to examine your organization’s work-life effectiveness.

Other blogs:

Involved Fathers Are Good for the Workplace

Why Soft Skills Matter in the Workplace

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