- Employers should be aware of the family lives of their employees in order to support strong morale and a sense of office community.
- Implementing family-friendly work policies can improve employee retention and foster a stronger relationship between upper management and employees.
- There are several actionable strategies businesses can take to build a family-friendly office community.
Many employers are realizing that to attract top employees, they need to create a family-friendly environment, research suggests.
Overall, about half of employers have taken steps recently to ensure their employees can spend quality time with their spouses and children, according to a study from the staffing firm OfficeTeam. Specifically, over the last five years, 49% of organizations have made changes to workplace policy to better accommodate working parents, while 51% have not made any extra effort to make it easier for employees to spend time with their families.
"With half of companies offering more family-friendly benefits in recent years, the onus is on organizations that have not kept pace to revisit their policies," Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, said in a statement. "Employers should actively promote their programs in this area to attract and retain top workers."
One problem employers may have is that they put their resources into perks that don't influence a working parent's decision to join a company.
The research shows that while 79% of employees named flexible hours as the family-friendly perk that would best convince them to work for an employer, just 68% of employers actually offer that option. [See Related Story: Support Your Employees by Creating a Family-Friendly Workplace]
Conversely, the study revealed that just 3% of employees said maternity and paternity leave policies would influence where they decided to work, but nearly 80% of employers offer those policies. Additionally, just 2% of workers said they want their employers to offer childcare programs. However, 18% of the organizations surveyed offer those options.
Employers also put resources into adoption benefits, but this area doesn't affect whether employees want to work for a company, either. The study discovered that 35 percent of businesses offer some sort of adoption benefits, but none of the employees surveyed said the feature would entice them to work somewhere.
"Having extra time with family can be a game-changer for staff," Britton said. "Perks like flexible schedules and telecommuting are attractive to all employees because everyone appreciates work-life balance, whether that means being able to take care of obligations at home or pursue personal interests."
The study was based on surveys of more than 300 HR managers at U.S. companies that had 20 or more employees, and more than 500 U.S. workers who were employed in office environments.
Examples of family-friendly policies
One of the biggest struggles for young families is figuring out how to balance work and take care of a newborn. Maternity leave is a way for employers to help new mothers get over this hurdle. If you're looking to build a family-friendly work environment, maternity leave packages for mothers is a good start.
It shows your willingness to support your employees through a major life event like childbirth. It gives your workers peace of mind to know that they don't have to sacrifice their career to build a family and will keep them committed to their performance once they return.
Another struggle for parents is finding childcare. Every employee's domestic situation is different. Parents who work full time and have infants or young children in school may struggle with finding childcare while they are at work. It may even affect their job performance if they need to leave at certain times or take days off to take care of their children.
If you have the means and the space available, providing childcare for your employees is a perfect way to build a family-friendly work environment. If you can’t do it yourself, check whether there is a local childcare center you can refer your employees to.
Rather than look at your employees' struggles as a weakness, look to engage and help find solutions. This will show that you are committed to building a work environment that believes in healthy community values.
Remote work options
Remote work is a trend that has been accelerating in many fields and industries. If your employees can work remotely, you should think about extending this option to employees with children.
If an employee has a child that is home sick, you could offer them the chance to work remotely rather than take a sick day. Or if you know one of your team members coaches a school soccer team on certain afternoons, you could offer them the ability to make up their work when they get home.
Being flexible with your employees when it comes to important family milestones will boost morale and make them more willing to make up any work they may have missed. Although this strategy may not work for every business, it’s a decent option to show you care.
Scholarships and student loan programs
Investing in the future is the only way to help shape it. Offering scholarships and student loan programs are a great way to show employees that you care about both their well-being and the future of their entire family.
It doesn't need to extravagant. Offering a $1,000 to one or a few qualified students is a meaningful gesture that will go a long way toward building a family-oriented community. Who knows, you could inspire some future business leaders who may reward your business years down the line.
Health insurance is a major concern for parents. It can be a scary thing if you or your children are not protected in the event a serious illness or accident befalls your family.
Offering health benefits and including coverage options for families is important if you're looking to build a family-friendly work environment. There is nothing worse for morale than letting your employees feel at risk or unstable, especially if they have children. It's better to invest in comprehensive policies than lose workers to more accommodating companies.