The Benefits of Family Friendly Workplaces

It's no secret that companies with the best human resource policies have the upper hand when it comes to recruiting top-notch employees. In fact, those business with family friendly work policies benefit the most when it comes to reducing the costs associated with dependent care responsibilities.

Too, family supportive companies have the advantage of employee loyalty (reduced turnover), allowing for a return on employee investment, which some companies estimate to be between $20,000 and $40,000, or an average of one-and-one half times the person's annual salary, by the time the employee is fully trained and profiting the company.

In addition, employees who would normally waste time worrying about family and work issues are more productive on the job, and absenteeism, which costs Canadian employers approximately $1.3 billion a year, is reduced. It all effects a company's bottom line.

Still there are many die-hard companies who believe it would be too expensive to develop family friendly workplace policies. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. There are many programs that would greatly assist parent employees, costing very little to implement. For example, going on line with a child care resource and referral or information service, giving employees the opportunity to tap into this valuable resource at any time, would be relatively painless to both finance and develop.

How Work Places Can Make It Easier

Certainly not every business can afford the costs associated with establishing an on-site or near-site child care centre, but they can, nevertheless, implement a number of other low cost family friendly programs. Lunch hour seminars, information and counseling services, and

    * Flexible work arrangement where employees can arrange their shifts around family obligations, or to work from home part of the day;
    * Job sharing options where two part-time employees perform one job;
    * Enhanced parental leave policies allowing parents to stay home during their child's first year;
    * Making special arrangements with hospitals or emergency care services to accommodate their employees;
    * Sponsoring after-school care or summer programs for older children;
    * Working in partnership with local resource and referral agencies and the local government to upgrade the child care infrastructure in the community in which they operate and their employees live;
    * Offering financial assistance with child care arrangements via discounts for employees at local centres, or by giving out vouchers to subsidize part of the cost; and so on.

It is often not until a company is about to lose one of its most valued employees or it realizes it is having trouble recruiting qualified employees that it begins to review its current workplace policies.

Employee Initiative

But the initiative for change can also come from employees who need help and take up their concerns with their employer. Often it is a matter of getting management to adjust its thinking on parental leave and time off for parents who need to deal with an unexpectedly ill child or a caregiver who just didn't show up for work. Arranging a way for parents to bank extra hours to cover for these unexpectancies is one way to offset absenteeism costs.

Whatever the reasons for their inception, family friendly workplace policies have a positive effect on the lives of those parents who are fortunate enough to have access to them, and on the businesses who are smart enough to see the benefits such programs offer. After all, happy employees are productive employees. And productive employees can't help but boost a company's bottom line. Faced with this truth, parents are in a better position than ever to get their employer onside.

Employer Benefits

    * Ability to recruit top-notch employees.
    * Lower absenteeism and tardiness.
    * Improved employee morale.
    * Retainment of valued employees.
    * Improved company image.
    * Increased productivity.
    * Ability to attract persons on leave back to work.

Employee Benefits

    * Reduced stress and worry.
    * Ability to remain with current employer.
    * Feels more comfortable dealing with family concerns and dependent care arrangements.
    * Greater access to professional help in dealing with family matters.
    * Sees employer as caring organization rather than a place where guilt over dealing with family issues adds even more stress to an already overstressed lifestyle.