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BY Georgene Huang

What Does It Mean to Be a Family-Friendly Employer?

Family

Photo credit: Creative Commons

TAGS: Family, Work-life balance, Benefits

It’s back-to-school season, and every year, as summer draws to a close, millions of families prepare to adjust their schedules to a different rhythm of daily life. In the workplace, too, employers have also been trying to adjust…to the fact that more and more employees are looking for support as they grow their families.

A new generation of millennial employees who have started families (or will soon) are changing the face of the traditional American household. Today, 40% of the breadwinners in households with children are women, same-sex couples adopt and have children via surrogacy and more couples dispense with traditional gender roles in child-rearing.

In response, employers are using new tactics to attract and retain employees with diverse families. Some companies are expanding their parental leave policies, while others offer perks such as egg-freezing and adoption benefits.

But what does being family-friendly really mean? And where should employers focus?

At Fairygodboss, we asked over 1,600 women whether their employers had what they considered to be family-friendly attributes. We we were pleasantly surprised to find that a majority (over 60%) of respondents do believe their employers are family-friendly in at least one area.

Fairygodboss Survey: Family Friendly Employer?

Perhaps the most surprising finding was that a majority (62%) of these women (who span a wide range of ages and work in a variety of industries, some without children and others who are mothers) reported having “family friendly hours”. While there's no doubt many employees who struggle with overwhelming work loads both in the office and at home, this was a good reminder that many people probably still probably work traditional hours between 9-5 pm (or something similar).

On other fronts, however, there was less consensus: Only a thin majority (53%) of women believed their employers created family-friendly cultures. Of course, culture is difficult to measure because it manifests itself in everything from the speeches of senior leaders to unspoken rules about leaving early to attend a kid’s school play. As a result, family-friendly cultures seems to vary greatly by employer. And at companies where culture is not monolithic, department and manager/team cultures may also matter quite a lot.

The area where the women surveyed agreed that employers could improve is corporate policies. Only one-third (or 36%) of women believed their companies offered family-friendly policies.  Things like paid maternity leave and on-site childcare can be viewed by businesses as big-ticket expenses, so to some extent this can be expected.

That said, corporate policies are also an area where incremental improvement is possible. Compared to culture, which can be entrenched and difficult to measure, employers can adopt modest new policy improvements with relative ease. Policies may involve bureaucracy and changes to benefits administration, but they also present tactical issues with practical solutions. Moreover, small improvements may be financially acceptable for companies if they help reduce employee attrition or increase employee engagement.

At Patagonia, for example, CEO Rose Marcario recently explained how on-site childcare nearly paid for itself.

For companies looking to take baby steps towards improving their policies, a maternity or parental leave policy can be extended a week or two, for starters. Similarly, backup childcare can be offered to employees with children, as opposed to full-fledged childcare, and flexible or remote-working options can be officially established for certain positions rather than an entire company.

The data suggests change is worth considering, as an employer’s family-friendliness is highly correlated with female-employee job satisfaction.

Female Job Satisfaction and Family-Friendly Employers

There may be no single silver bullet for how to become a family-friendly employer, but therein lies opportunity.

 

This article was originally published in Forbes.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

Related Community Discussions

  • I need some advice. I recently took maternity leave, which ended up turning in to Temporary Disability Leave because of some medical complications I had after the baby was delivered. I returned back to work after being off for 24 weeks. I have returned to the same job and have tried to get back into the swing of corporate life + new baby (first time mom here) and have the opportunity to take an additional 4 weeks off paid by the state, but it needs to be taken and completed before my child turns 12 months old and that's fast approaching.

    I submitted a request to HR to take temporary leave of absence and my HR department is denying me the ability to take this leave, stating that I exhausted the 13 weeks FMLA that the company offers (has to offer) to all employees. They are saying that I don't qualify for this leave until a full 12 months after my initial leave started. Everything I have read online and everyone I have talked to say that FMLA and TCI leave are completely different and separate. Technically, I think I am allowed to take this leave, the State says I qualify for it, but it's now in my employers hands and I am afraid if they deny me, and I choose to still take the leave, that I will not have job security. The brochure talking about TCI doesn't say anything about FMLA being the deciding factor "http://www.dlt.ri.gov/tdi/pdf/TCIBrochure.pdf."

    Does anyone know what my rights are? Can I legally take the 4 weeks off, and still have a job to return back to? Given that I had to take so much time off, do I still qualify for job protection and benefits?

    Thank you for any an all help.

  • I am highly skilled with a background in marketing management (MBA in Finace and Marketing), process improvement (Six Sigma), project management and research. I have been ranked number 3 in quality performance and recognized by a CEO for my innovativeness. I have taken serval (3) years off from the corporate environment to take care a relative that has significant chronic medical issues. I am ready to go back to work, but I have contraint. I want to be available - so I do not want to travel more than 20%. I do not want to work extreme hours - I want a balanced life. I am trying to relocate to the Raleigh/Durham area in North Carolina, so that I can oversee my relative's care, but I realize that this may not be possible.

    Watching this health crisis unfold has taught me that I do not need to make 6 figures. I want work that makes a difference and pays well. I am not a spring chicken (59 years olds). I documents that show the quality of my work.

    Where do I find a company that will provide the mental stimulation and flexibility. I like to think, solve hard problem and significantly change companies in positive way. I like the think tank environment.

    How do I search for and find a good fit?

  • Just to be totally honest: I am the breadwinner in my marriage. I feel like sometimes it causes a lot of friction. I also feel resentful because my husband still wants to be the main decision maker about family/household issues. Does anyone else have the same issues?

  • I'm a new mom, and I am feeling a lot of pressure to attend an "optional" holiday team dinner. I will not be allowed to have my cell phone on me. My DH will most likely be working late due to year-end preparations at his company, and my MIL has never watched my baby for that long. She also doesn't speak English, so if she calls the restaurant for an emergency, I'm worried it won't get to me. I am extremely uncomfortable attending this dinner, but feel that if I do not attend, there will be backlash. What do I do?

  • I'm getting ready to come back from maternity leave, and one of the senior female partners just pulled me aside and told me I should expect to travel more when I get back! I'm already having a tough time with going back to work, and now I'm just feeling sick. Any advice?

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What Does It Mean to Be a Family-Friendly Employer?

What Does It Mean to Be a Family-Friendly Employer?

It’s back-to-school season, and every year, as summer draws to a close, millions of families prepare to adjust their schedules to a different rhythm...

It’s back-to-school season, and every year, as summer draws to a close, millions of families prepare to adjust their schedules to a different rhythm of daily life. In the workplace, too, employers have also been trying to adjust…to the fact that more and more employees are looking for support as they grow their families.

A new generation of millennial employees who have started families (or will soon) are changing the face of the traditional American household. Today, 40% of the breadwinners in households with children are women, same-sex couples adopt and have children via surrogacy and more couples dispense with traditional gender roles in child-rearing.

In response, employers are using new tactics to attract and retain employees with diverse families. Some companies are expanding their parental leave policies, while others offer perks such as egg-freezing and adoption benefits.

But what does being family-friendly really mean? And where should employers focus?

At Fairygodboss, we asked over 1,600 women whether their employers had what they considered to be family-friendly attributes. We we were pleasantly surprised to find that a majority (over 60%) of respondents do believe their employers are family-friendly in at least one area.

Fairygodboss Survey: Family Friendly Employer?

Perhaps the most surprising finding was that a majority (62%) of these women (who span a wide range of ages and work in a variety of industries, some without children and others who are mothers) reported having “family friendly hours”. While there's no doubt many employees who struggle with overwhelming work loads both in the office and at home, this was a good reminder that many people probably still probably work traditional hours between 9-5 pm (or something similar).

On other fronts, however, there was less consensus: Only a thin majority (53%) of women believed their employers created family-friendly cultures. Of course, culture is difficult to measure because it manifests itself in everything from the speeches of senior leaders to unspoken rules about leaving early to attend a kid’s school play. As a result, family-friendly cultures seems to vary greatly by employer. And at companies where culture is not monolithic, department and manager/team cultures may also matter quite a lot.

The area where the women surveyed agreed that employers could improve is corporate policies. Only one-third (or 36%) of women believed their companies offered family-friendly policies.  Things like paid maternity leave and on-site childcare can be viewed by businesses as big-ticket expenses, so to some extent this can be expected.

That said, corporate policies are also an area where incremental improvement is possible. Compared to culture, which can be entrenched and difficult to measure, employers can adopt modest new policy improvements with relative ease. Policies may involve bureaucracy and changes to benefits administration, but they also present tactical issues with practical solutions. Moreover, small improvements may be financially acceptable for companies if they help reduce employee attrition or increase employee engagement.

At Patagonia, for example, CEO Rose Marcario recently explained how on-site childcare nearly paid for itself.

For companies looking to take baby steps towards improving their policies, a maternity or parental leave policy can be extended a week or two, for starters. Similarly, backup childcare can be offered to employees with children, as opposed to full-fledged childcare, and flexible or remote-working options can be officially established for certain positions rather than an entire company.

The data suggests change is worth considering, as an employer’s family-friendliness is highly correlated with female-employee job satisfaction.

Female Job Satisfaction and Family-Friendly Employers

There may be no single silver bullet for how to become a family-friendly employer, but therein lies opportunity.

 

This article was originally published in Forbes.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

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