Family-friendly policies in the workplace and work-life balance are always hot topics for discussion, especially with people like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (Lean In) and Princeton Professor and former U.S. State Department policy expert Anne Marie Slaughter (Why Women Still Can’t Have it All) weighing in with their own experiences (and often controversial) opinions on working and having a family.
Sandberg and Slaughter are, obviously, both women. But more than ever, family-work challenges are issues that affect both men and women. In fact, a new Pew Research Center study finds that men and women, on average, spend significantly different amounts of time weekly at work and on childcare and housework, they share one very important thing in common: Both men and women are equally stressed about achieving a work-life balance. The study show that 50 percent of working fathers and 56 percent of working moms reported that it is “very” or “somewhat” difficult to balance family and work responsibilities.
Not surprisingly, companies with (and without) family-friendly workplaces are also very much in the news. Although many businesses are attempting to make it easier for moms and dads to balance work and family, the consensus seems to be that we still have a long way to go. In a recent discussion of this very issue, www.parentfurther.com says that higher employee morale and retention are just two of the reasons for businesses to get on board. It’s everyone’s responsibility—and to everyone’s benefit—to work for family-friendly change in the workplace, the site says, and offers some suggestions for getting started.
Human resources expert Ruth Mayhew authored Non-Traditional Ways to Promote a Family-Friendly Workplace on chron.com (the Houston Chronicle). She says that while more typical family-friendly benefits can include things like telecommuting and parental leave, there are creative ways to also include some non-traditional benefits that help working parents. These include:
While some companies still bemoan the cost and hard-to-quantify results of instituting family-friendly policies, Slaughter says the statistics say otherwise. She cites examples of studies that show improved share prices and a correlation between increased flexibility and job engagement, job satisfaction, employee retention and employee health.
And then there is the cost of doing nothing to consider. When an employee leaves because of a family-unfriendly workplace, the business automatically loses the time and money invested in those employees, not to mention incurring the cost of recruiting and hiring a replacement.