Near-historic low unemployment rates have some employers looking for creative new ways to attract top-notch employees and hold onto them once they’re hired. One effective solution many have discovered is to create a family-friendly work culture.
This is especially important when you consider the number of two-earner families today. Such families often require more flexibility from their employers in order to deal with family issues that may arise during the normal workday.
Create a Family-Friendly Benefits Package
Businesses that focus on a family-friendly work culture and make creating this kind of culture a priority can get a leg up on the competition in the battle for attracting and retaining highly skilled employees. Creating a family-friendly culture in the workplace usually starts with constructing a family-friendly benefits package that includes the following:
- Child care assistance — This is often the top priority for two-earner families given the high cost of child care in many areas of the country. According to the Center for American Progress, the average cost of center-based child care in the U.S. is $1,230 per month.
Some larger businesses provide on-site child care for their employees, though this may not be practical for smaller firms. Instead, you could provide subsidies to employees to help cover their monthly child care costs. Or you could talk to local child care centers about forming partnerships that provide your employees with a discount.
- Flexible paid leave options — Employees with small children tend to especially appreciate this benefit given the unpredictability they often face when it comes to their kids. Offering flexible paid leave options can give these employees additional peace of mind in knowing that they can be responsive to their kids’ unexpected needs when they arise.
Paid leave starts with being generous in allowing employees who are new parents to remain at home with their newborns for a reasonable length of time without the fear of losing their jobs. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, most (but not all) new parents can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and return to their jobs at the end of their leave. Your company can go a long way toward creating a family-friendly culture by going beyond the legally mandated requirements – with additional leave time, paid leave options, and more.
In addition, you can make it easy for employees to take leave when necessary to deal with unexpected family situations (like a sick child) or attend their children’s activities that might take place during normal work hours.
- Healthcare coverage for family members — Offering health insurance to your employees should just be the start. If you want to be viewed as a family-friendly workplace, you should extend this coverage to your employees’ family members as well.
It’s alright to require employees to make contributions toward the cost of health and dental insurance for their spouses and children. These contributions are usually less — and sometimes much less — than it would cost employees to buy insurance for family members on the individual marketplace.
- Opportunities to earn bonuses — Of course, all employees usually appreciate the opportunity to earn bonuses. But bonuses can be especially useful for two-earner families that are facing the high costs associated with raising children.
Bonus programs can be structured in a number of different ways. For example, you can set team or company-wide goals and milestones, and pay team members or all employees when the goals are achieved. Or you can make bonuses contingent on employees achieving individual goals or quotas. Talk to your managers about the most effective ways to structure bonus programs that will appeal to two-earner families.
Focus on a family-friendly work culture and making creating this kind of culture a priority can get a leg up on the competition
More Family-Friendly Workplace Strategies
Beyond your benefits package, here are a few more things you can do to create a family-friendly culture at your workplace:
- Allow flexible work arrangements and hours. Technology is making it less important that all of your employees be physically present in one location to do their jobs. Examine the feasibility of allowing employees to work from home on either a part-time or full-time basis. This could simplify life considerably for two-earner families and also save them a lot of money in child care expenses.
Similarly, you could let employees work flexible hours that better accommodate their family responsibilities. For example, allowing parents to arrive and leave early on nights where their kids have activities, or allowing a caregiver to arrive and leave late in order to take an elderly parent to their regularly scheduled occupational therapy appointment.
- Understand and respect the priorities of employees who are in two-earner families. If you’re conducting social or team-building exercises for employees, try to plan these at times when employees who are parents of young children can attend. For example, it might be a challenge for these employees to attend such events after 5 p.m. or on weekends, so schedule them during the regular workday if possible.
In the same way, try to plan family-friendly extracurricular events in addition to after-work happy hours and socials that tend to appeal mostly to singles or married couples without children. These ideas might include activities like weekend picnics or outings to the circus, an amusement park or a family-themed movie.
- Keep the lines of communication with employees open. It’s important to be proactive when it comes to building and maintaining a family-friendly work culture. Therefore, you should regularly solicit feedback from employees about what your company can do to make life easier for employees who may be managing families or managing family situations.
For example, you could perform anonymous employee surveys, conduct employee focus groups or simply have one-on-one conversations in which you ask employees what kinds of family-friendly policies are most important to them. Make sure employees are comfortable speaking honestly and openly; otherwise, you the feedback you receive won’t be helpful.
Don’t Fall Behind the Curve
Most businesses today can’t afford to fall behind the curve when it comes to creating a family-friendly work culture. Talk to your managers about steps you can take to make your business a more family-friendly place to work.
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