Being a parent is hard. Being a parent with a full-time job is harder. Being a parent with a full-time job at a company that doesn’t create a family friendly workplace is almost impossible, especially if this is the case for both parents.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “92.8 percent of all men with children under age 18 participated in the labor force,” while the participation rate for women was 70.5 percent. Altogether, this amounted to 34.2 million families with at least one working parent in 2016, which means you’re extremely likely to employ parents — and lots of them.
Creating a family friendly workplace can give employers a major advantage in attracting hard-working employees, and then perhaps most importantly, keeping them long-term. Luckily, some of the most helpful benefits you can offer don’t have to be incredibly expensive.
5 Ways to Create a Family Friendly Workplace
1. Parental Leave
Paid parental leave is a hot topic in America right now. Anyone who has tried to care for a newborn baby knows it’s a full-time job in and of itself — and for the most demanding boss (with the weirdest schedule) you’ve ever had.
Thankfully, some employers have begun to see the importance of this benefit (for both parents and babies). Companies like Facebook have begun offering up to four months of paid leave for all new parents, whether they had a biological child or adopted. Mark Zuckerberg himself took two months off after the birth of each his children, although he broke up his time with the second baby into two parts (one month right away and then the entire month of December).
Along the same lines, Microsoft offers up to 20 weeks off (about 5 months). Netflix offers unlimited parental leave (even to its hourly workers). Other companies expanding their leave policies include American Express, Chobani, craft-super-site Etsy, and Deloitte.
Perhaps offering 20 weeks is more than you’re able to offer, and that’s okay. But keep in mind that the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with 50 or more full-time equivalents to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of (unpaid) leave after the birth of a child. Most employees won’t be expecting 12 weeks of full-time pay, but they’ll feel grateful for any paid time off and doing so bodes well for you. In your job descriptions, you can boast that you have a family friendly workplace and you’ll have the policy in place to back it up.
2. Flexible Schedules
Flexible schedules are a surefire way to create a family friendly workplace. Letting employees leave early and finish their hours at home in the evening or on the weekend is a simple solution for many parents. Parents love flexible schedules because they allow for things like during-school ceremonies they might otherwise miss, programs just after school lets out, and even the simple act of picking the kids up from school to avoid after-care costs.
Some employers worry that their workers on flexible schedules won’t work as hard from home, but there’s evidence that points to the contrary, saying that employees who work from home for part of the week are actually more engaged. Of course to whom much is given, much is expected, so if you don't think a particular employee has proven themselves worthy of this benefit, then don't offer it. Afterall, it's a privilege, not a right.
If your type of work doesn’t easily lend itself to working remotely, consider letting parents shift their schedules. Perhaps someone will find it easier to work 7am-3pm rather than 9am-5pm. This might allow them to pick up their kids from school or get home before the school bus.
3. Child-Care Subsidies
Creating a family friendly workplace can simply mean acknowledging that having a family is expensive. Offering child-care subsidies can do wonders for alleviating the financial burden of child-care — a necessity for most people that costs thousands of dollars a year, oftentimes creating a bill similar to a mortgage payment.
This is a situation where every little bit helps. By offering child-care subsidies (even if it doesn’t come close to covering the full amount), you’re helping take a huge weight off many parents’ shoulders. Whatever you’re willing and able to do, parents will appreciate.
4. Allowing Kids at Work
Sometimes, having a family friendly workplace literally means being friendly to family. Once kids go to school, the days where child-care is needed during the workday are not over. On average, kids have one day off a month (because of various holidays and teacher in-service days) which means that there are about 10 days a year where parents have to be working, but kids are out of class and perhaps not old enough to be home alone.
These are days where it could be immensely helpful for parents to be able to bring their kids to work with them. Kids could sit in their parents’ offices if they have them, or there could be a designated kids room for those who don’t have private offices or who need to use their office for a meeting or a phone call.
5. On-Site Daycare
Daycare is one of the most stressful, but necessary parts of being a working parent. You can’t go to work and leave your kids home alone all day. But leaving your kids with strangers is petrifying and not being able to see them until the end of the day is very frustrating for many parents. In addition, the expense of daycare alone sometimes causes families to choose to keep one parent at home — just to eliminate the crushing weight of child-care costs.
This one wouldn’t be cheap to get started, but if you have the space (and enough employees with children under the age of five), this would be one of the most incredible ways to create a family friendly workplace. People wouldn’t expect an employer to provide this service for free, but charging a fee (via payroll deduction) that sufficiently covers the caregivers, supplies, and insurance involved would certainly be fair.
Parents would be grateful to eliminate a stop both before (and after) work and many might also enjoy popping in to say hello during their lunch break or getting to check in with their child if he or she is having a rough day.
Why Your Family Friendliness Matters
We can’t expect parents to operate in a vacuum. Children are a huge portion of people’s lives once they choose to have them — and once you have them, they’re there forever. You’re in it for the long haul with soccer practices, matches, and summer camps, which will sometimes interfere with traditional 9 to 5 hours.
Parents who work for family friendly workplaces are more likely to stay long-term because they feel appreciated and valued, but they also tend to feel a greater sense of loyalty to their employer. And the more loyalty your employees feel, the lower your turnover will be. Creating a space where parents feel accepted (and even welcomed) is one of the best ways you can invest in your business.
What are you doing to create a more family friendly workplace? Leave us a comment below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!