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How Family-Friendly Is Your Business — Really?

Family-friendly work environments are the future. When companies fit family-friendly practices and initiatives within their budgets, they invest in a culture of success.

Even if you don’t have kids, you have a family. When work takes your time or energy away from them, how does it make you feel? That feeling is the same one your employees experience.

Employers everywhere talk a big game about work-life balance, but we often neglect it in practice. If employees are forced to choose between their job and their family, they may not quit outright. But at best, you can bet their job satisfaction and productivity will fall.

Being a family-oriented company means more than hosting Take Your Child to Work events. Use these initiatives and practices to truly put families first:

1. Generous health insurance

For all the new-age perks out there, employer-sponsored health insurance remains the benefit workers want most. Research published in Harvard Business Review found 88% of job seekers take it into account when searching for a new employer, with more than half giving it “heavy” consideration.

If you already offer a health insurance plan, could you provide more options to better accommodate spouses and children? Look for ones with lower deductibles, lower employee contributions, and fewer co-pays. Coverage that includes dental and vision can also give you a leg up with workers who have kids. 

2. FSA and HSA

Businesses that offer a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account help workers put away pre-tax dollars to cover their families’ health and wellness expenses. FSAs and HSAs can be used to pay for family-oriented health services, including those that support sexual and reproductive health, family planning, and more. 

For workers with older children, FSA and HSA contributions can also be used to pay for medicine and first-aid supplies. Although many FSA accounts are “use it or lose it” arrangements, unspent HSA funds can be invested or saved for future needs. 

3. Childcare assistance

If you have kids who are too young to stay home by themselves, you know just how tough (and expensive) it can be to find a sitter. To offset those costs, consider partnering with a local childcare facility. 

Other employers go as far as offering on-site childcare. Outdoor brand Patagonia has provided this perk to its team since 1983. Some progressive companies have even begun to build out infant-at-work policies that allow new parents to bring newborn children to the workplace until an agreed-upon age. 

4. Concierge and convenience services

Being a parent isn’t just about sending kids off to school or taking them to doctor’s appointments. It means feeding more mouths, doing more laundry, and planning for their financial future.

Make it easier for working parents to cover their bases. Build conveniences into your benefits package such as:

  • Meal catering
  • Dry cleaning
  • Event and vacation planning
  • Running errands
  • Grocery shopping
  • Financial planning

Those might sound like extra services, but put yourself in parents’ shoes. The fewer distractions they have, the happier and more productive they’ll be at work. 

5. Paid family time off

When a new member joins the family, it’s important that parents of both sexes are able to spend time with him or her. UNICEF recommends that companies offer at least six months of paid parental leave.

It’s not just about birth, either. Go above and beyond by broadening paid family leave to family-related paid time off. Family PTO can cover a variety of changes in family status, including:

  • Maternity and paternity leave
  • Adoption leave
  • Bereavement leave
  • Medical leave
  • General family leave, such as time off to care for a terminally ill family member

Be sure to support workers once they return from family PTO. Develop reintegration programs that streamline the transition back to work, including mentorship and work-from-home time.

6. Lactation support

Breastfeeding is part of life, but it can be an uncomfortable subject to broach at work. Although there are already state and federal laws in place that require certain employers to provide lactation support, meeting the legal minimum isn’t exactly a family-first strategy.

Providing paid breastfeeding breaks is a table-stakes benefit. Create comfortable and private areas where mothers can pump breast milk. Offer educational resources, such as an on-call nurse, in case moms have questions. 

Think of lactation benefits as part of a wider reintegration program. New moms who feel comfortable feeding their children at the office may return to work earlier, request less time off, and be more productive to boot.

Family-friendly work environments are the future. Don’t just pay lip service to work-life balance — practice what you preach. When companies fit family-friendly practices and initiatives within their budgets, they invest in a culture of success.

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Photo Credit: LightField Studios/Shutterstock
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