How To Reap The Benefits Of Family-Friendly Policies
Don’t look now but your executives are in a bind: As work hours and productivity pressures keep increasing, family time is getting squeezed. Salaried workers now average more than 48 hours per week on the job. They spend more time commuting than on vacation. There are fewer stay-at-home parents. And Baby Boomers who delayed having children until their 30’s or 40’s have things especially hard: Many must not only care for school-age children but aging parents as well.
“Organizations that help employees balance the needs of family and work have a big advantage in recruiting,” according to Michael Carrillo, president of CPGjobs. “The good news for employers is that there’s no conflict between the family and the bottom line.”
Solving the work-family bind is especially important in retaining women executives, who are leaving the workforce in large numbers to attend the needs of their families. According to an article in the New York Times, the percentage of American women in the workforce has fallen to 69%, down from 74% in 1999.
Men feeling it, too
Women aren’t the only executives feeling the pressure of the work-family bind. More men than ever share care-giving responsibilities, and a surprising one in six single parents is male.
“Businesses that force employees to choose between their careers and families should not be surprised when they choose their loved ones,” Carrillo says. “To stop the talent drain we must help executives balance their personal and professional lives.” According to Carrillo, these steps go far beyond legal compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act, which grants up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for the birth of a child, serious illness, or caring for a family member.
“When it comes to this sensitive and important human issue, much more is needed than simple compliance with Federal and state regulations.” There are many additional steps that employers can take to help retain executives who have caregiving needs. These best practices include:
FLEX TIME. Allowing executives to come in early and leave early, or vice versa, allows them to get kids off to school or meet other family needs. It can shorten their commute times as well.
PART TIME. Many managers simply can’t work 40 or 50 hours a week and care for children or family members. But they can work a shorter schedule or share a job with another part-timer. In many cases this is a better option than losing an experienced manager altogether.
TELECOMMUTING. Surveys show that employees who work from home are just as productive as employees who work in the office – sometimes more so. Telecommuting – either full or part time – can help retain valuable managers.
EXTENDED LEAVE. A multitude of large tech companies have made headlines recently for offering extended leave options for employees. Yahoo, Microsoft, and Netflix have all upped the ante providing increased paid leave for new parents. While these kinds of leave are certainly not the norm, it shows how top organizations are increasingly giving thought to how long a new parent needs to stay home with job protection when they’re ready to return to the workforce.
ON-SITE CHILD CARE. A substantial investment is involved, but one that can pay big dividends. According to a 2013 study by Horizons Workforce Consulting® along with Bowling Green State University, “90% of respondents indicate that employer sponsored child care makes them more likely to continue to work for their organization.”
HUMAN TOUCH. Many companies have on-site gyms so employees can save time and relieve stress. One company keeps its cafeteria open late so employees can get family dinners to go. Another offers expectant parents a support program, including emergency pagers for dad and a 24-hour nurse hotline. Bottom line: You increase employee retention when you incorporate your employees’ families into your company family.
LOOSEN UP. Many employees don’t need shorter hours or extended leave – just an hour or afternoon here and there to meet unexpected situations. “Most companies say they are flexible about family needs, but many supervisors don’t mean it,” Carrillo says. “Such practices should be formal policy so they stick.”
Carrillo says, “The benefits of family-friendly practices are proven – better recruiting results, higher retention, reduced training costs, higher profits and increased productivity. These practices aren’t just big-hearted – they’re smart business policies that pay lasting dividends.”
Michael Carrillo is president of CPGjobs, the CPG industry’s leading candidate recruiting service for HR professionals and employers. You may contact him at Michael@CPGjobs.com or call (626) 535-0143.