Family-Friendly Workplaces Improve Employee Engagement

6 Tips to Create a Balanced Workplace

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about finding a work-life balance. There’s also a parallel trend in the workforce to hire young. Young workers have no ties. They can give 100% to the job – live and breathe the company, so to speak. Workers in their 40s and 50s probably have families, other priorities, perhaps ailing parents. Their experience costs more. They’re not living the organization day and night.

For some reason, the culture of success has a lingering mentality of all or nothing. However, organizations that truly value a family-friendly workplace, embody it, and live it, are not suffering at all.

This coming weekend is Mother’s Day. It’s likely that you have many single mothers in your workforce, juggling parenthood and work. Of 12 million single-parent families with children under 18, 80% have women as the head of household.

Any one of us who has a family and a job can appreciate the incredible amount of time and financial management skills it takes to be where our families need us, when they need us. Many are fortunate to have a double-income household. Many more do not.

So for Mother’s Day, and for families, take a look at your policies to support families. Family-friendly workplaces benefit not only employees but the organization as a whole. They attract women professionals and, in turn, have a more gender-diverse leadership and workforce. They nurture human capital.

Here are 6 family-friendly policies that create a culture of respect and success. It’s time to adopt them and implement them.

1. Flex-time. How flexible are you? Do you provide opportunities for staff to leave early for school shows and teacher meetings? Do people look down on parents who leave early to pick up a sick child from school? Do you have employees with a really long commute? Why not encourage them to work from home once/day? It’s not about punching a time-clock, instead getting the work done. Flex time can’t just be an idea. It has to be something everyone values and respects. Encourage your parents to go to the soccer game. This is life. They can’t afford to miss out on their kids’ lives.

2. Rescheduling and pushing meetings back. This is a big “no” in a family-friendly workplace. A half an hour later at night for many is “just half an hour.” That said, those with families, gymnastics, ailing parents and more can be thrown into a lurch with that half an hour. This, too, goes for team building. Evening is really hard for most families. Why not have lunches or breakfasts. Organizations need to be more thoughtful about social planning to include everyone.

3. Scoot your employees out the door. There’s a romantic idea about burning the midnight oil, chained to your desk, tapping away at tomorrow’s reports. As a manager, you need to get your employees out the door, unless there’s something exceptional going on. This must be exceptional, not the norm.

4. Talk about it. Priorities change. Many employees without family ties and responsibilities might not understand this. It’s critical that everybody understands everyone has boundaries. No more late-night calls or early, rush-to-the-office responsibilities. Communicating boundaries and sending out clear examples is a great way to define expectations at work.

5. Create benefits according to employee needs. Some people are supporting ailing parents. Some are trying to get pregnant. Others can’t find an after-school program. What kinds of benefits can you provide – subsidizing elder care, savings plans, associations with the local YMCA – for your employees? Tap into your employees’ needs.

6. Have a strategic occupational health strategy. Make health an organization priority. There are some simple, common-sense things to start on now: Don’t come to work sick. Don’t have employees come to work sick. This is not heroic. It’s annoying and gives the wrong message. Stock the kitchen with healthy options – fruits, nuts, low-sugar/low-salt options. Provide employees with opportunities to join a pool, a family-friendly hiking club, a local dance class etc.

Trusting your employees to get the job done is the first step in a family-friendly workplace. Creating a culture of respect, defining boundaries, being flexible, and keeping communication clear, are the first steps toward creating a family-friendly organization.

Happy Mother’s Day !

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