How to be a family-friendly employer
Posted on: Wednesday July 28, 2021
Schools break up this week so employees with children will be juggling work and childcare even more than usual. As an employer, it’s important to understand the challenges parents face and offer flexible work arrangements to make life easier.
But family-friendly working isn’t just about children – employees may well be caring for older relatives or family members with disabilities. Carers UK estimates that five million people in the UK are juggling caring responsibilities with work - that's one in seven of the workforce. However, the significant demands of caring mean that 600 people give up work every day to care for an older or disabled relative.
Why is it important?
Adopting family-friendly employment practices can help employees enjoy a better work-life balance, with consequent gains for productivity, engagement, loyalty and wellbeing. Such measures can also help build up a positive image for organisations and create an edge in attracting and retaining talent.
So what can you do?
Businesses need to strike a balance between words and actions.
Talking the talk - building a supportive environment.
- a culture of honesty about the challenges of balancing work and family life
- support from line managers and across the business for family-friendly working practices – invest in training if necessary
- recognition that sometimes the best-laid plans go wrong eg. employees will need to use annual leave at short notice to cover a breakdown in care arrangements
- advertising family-friendly working as part of recruitment to ensure diversity of candidates
- communicating relevant policies and practices to employees so they can take advantage.
Walking the walk - providing practical benefits that parents and carers want.
- Maternity and paternity leave scheme that offers payments above the statutory minimum requirements
- Ditto adoption leave scheme
- Options for flexible working – eg. flexible start and/or finish times, homeworking and part-time working
- Option to take parental leave or extended leave to care for dependents
- An on-site nursery
- Access to OnDemand GP appointments for employees and their household
- Providing a guide that pulls all key information on family friendly policies together
- Setting up and directing employees to peer-to-peer support groups – these can help combat the loneliness and isolation experienced by some carers and parents
- Wellbeing support – being a carer can be mentally and physically exhausting so employees will appreciate resources to help them manage their health.
It’s vital that your underlying workplace culture supports the flexible and family-friendly policies you have in place. Embedding a supportive environment takes time and effort but will pay dividends in allowing parents and carers at your organisation to achieve their full potential.
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