Creating a Family-Friendly Workplace
Whether you’re an employee or an employer, you have the opportunity to help both yourself and other parents by making your workplace more family-friendly. And when other employers see the benefits of having a family-friendly workplace, such as higher employee morale and retention, they too may start to put some of these practices in place, benefiting even more families.
One of the ways to help balance your work and family lives—and help others do it too—is to work for change at your workplace. Many employers are very understanding when it comes to the responsibilities of parenting, but others are less flexible. Below are a few ideas you can use to make your workplace more family-friendly.
Talk to your human resources representative or another employer resource about creative strategies that will help you maintain balance between work and family without undermining your job responsibilities. You may be able to work from home one day a week, or in the late afternoons when your child is home from school.
Once you’ve worked out a plan with your human resources representative or ombudsman, talk to her about the best way to approach your supervisor about these possible changes.
If your company allows it, decorate your desk, office, or locker with your child’s drawings and paintings as well as pictures of him.
Encourage others in your workplace to do the same. Occasionally take your child to your workplace (even if it’s after hours) so he knows where you work and sees how you have surrounded yourself with mementos of him.
Your company’s work-life benefits, policies, and available resources can be useful tools in your search for balance. Use the benefits that are available and recommend additional benefits that would make it easier to be a productive employee. (Many companies offer 800-number hotlines or Web sites that explain employee benefits. If your employer has one of these resources, take advantage of it.)
If you are a supervisor or employer, you can take steps to make your workplace family-friendly for your employees. Remember that employees with high morale are more productive—and that parents who can create a work-life balance are more likely to be happy with their jobs.
Let your employees know you are interested in hearing about ways in which you can make it easier to balance work and family responsibilities. They may have ideas that would cost little or nothing, but may boost productivity, morale, and commitment to the company.
By offering education and support (through lunchtime seminars, employee newsletters, or other communications) you can have a positive effect on your employees’ home lives. Offering benefits such as flexible scheduling, tax-deferred child-care options, and time off for volunteering will be beneficial for both parents and nonparents alike. When Work ‘Works’ from the Families and Work Institute provides many valuable ideas on this topic.