Being a full time employee and a parent can be stressful. Putting in the work it takes to be a good employee while still fulfilling your duties as a parent and spouse requires a lot of energy, especially if both parents work full time. In order to create the policies your employees need, you must recognize that they have a full life outside of work. Following these important steps will help to support your employees and create a family friendly work environment.
To parents, a flexible schedule is more than just convenience. Many employers have turned towards a policy of flexible hours, as long as their employees get their work done. Being able to come in earlier so that they can pick their kids up from school or take them to sports practice is a big deal. Not only does it allow them valuable family time, but it could even save them money on that sitter they’ve been hiring during the school week. However, flexibility is about more than hours. Allowing your employees to work remotely if they have a sick child or family member can save them the worry and allow them to focus on family. Flextime and allowing family leave can help to relieve some of your employees’ everyday stressors, and even better, allow them to truly enjoy family time without fearing that it will interfere with work schedules. It’s worth human resources reviewing your company’s leave policy to ensure that it is flexible in terms of leave options. Don’t forget sick leave and medical leave are other areas that can typically cause a lot of issues with employees.
2) Paid parental leave
The United States is the only developed country that does not offer mandatory paid parental leave. Honor all types of families by providing paid parental leave for everyone–this includes non-traditional couples, adoptive parents, surrogacy, and dads too! Unfortunately, many companies still require their employees to identify a “primary caregiver” of the family. In reality, many families consist of two working parents, who care for their children equally. This is more than just a women’s issue–new families are increasing expect that both parents will work and care for their children. Becoming a parent is a huge life adjustment and milestone, and the reality is that most parents simply can’t take the time they need because they can’t afford it. Family friendly policies that support new parents with paid paternity leave can really set a positive tone for the company culture and help employees.
3) Support nursing mothers
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, businesses are required to provide adequate break time and a private space that’s not a bathroom to nursing mothers throughout the work day. Beyond adhering to these standards, there are many ways that you can support your nursing employees and make them feel comfortable by applying improved family-friendly workplace policies. First, make sure all employees and supervisors are educated about the policies and procedures, and that pumping every three hours is necessary. Additionally, create a comfortable and private designated nursing space. Lastly, if necessary, work with your employees to cover for them during pumping breaks and help them to be supportive.
4) Communication is key!
Take time to ask your employees what they need and what would help them relieve some of their daily stressors. Encouraging both positive and negative feedback will help you create a policy that fits your company. Because some employees might be reluctant to come forward, you might consider creating an anonymous survey where they can get more personal. Checking in frequently will remind your employees of your support and will surely increase retention.
Ultimately, creating a family-friendly workplace is about more than child care and nursing policies. A family-friendly environment is one where your employees feel supported and listened to. Meeting your employees needs and recognizing that they have a family life outside of work will set you apart from other companies, and help you keep the staff you love.
5) Create a family-first corporate culture
This step goes beyond the support encouraged in the first four steps by making your workplace that celebrates employees that choose to have families. Host events that invite employees families to come along. Things like bring your child to work days or family picnics can allow employees to get to know each other’s families and allow their families to get to know where their parents work. For companies that have the resources creche and day care centers located within the building can be an important employee benefit. For many parents site daycare can really help with care costs and can mean team members can have a better work-life balance.
Also, give employees gifts or swag that are family friendly. Some examples of our favorites are our infant onsie for new or expecting parents. Apparel in youth sizes, like this Youth triblend tee-shirt, youth baseball hat or youth zip-up hoodie. Or even some toys or games like this teddy bear or custom rubiks cube. Kids love to get swag and providing these items available to your employees shows them that you are considering their families.
In the end, showing your employees that you recognize the challenges of being a working parent and providing the recognition and support they need will create a positive culture and can help you retain employees and have a more productive team.