For a long time, many people have held the belief that in order to reach the heights of success in your career, you have to sacrifice time with your family. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Forward-thinking companies are now realising the benefits that come from creating a family-friendly workplace. One that allows employees to thrive professionally whilst also valuing the work-life balance and supporting their lives outside of the office.
Being a family-friendly organisation means acknowledging and accommodating all types of families. This includes opposite and same-sex parents, single parents, adoptive families, foster families, intergenerational families, and those within the LGBTQIA+ community.
We understand that with constant social change and the differing circumstances of employees at an individual level, this can seem like a hard thing to achieve. However, our guide explores the benefits of being a family-friendly workplace and outlines some of the ways that you can effectively implement inclusive policies and benefits.
What are the benefits of being a family-friendly workplace?
Being a family-friendly workplace is hugely important, not just for employees but for businesses too. When an organisation demonstrates that they support family-focused staff, those employees are happier and more productive.
In turn, this leads to higher levels of staff loyalty and better employee retention which also reduces recruiting costs. Implementing family-friendly practices also helps organisations to build their reputation, allowing them to attract top talent from a wider pool of candidates.
Ways to create a more family-friendly workplace
It’s clear that there are many benefits to adopting family-friendly practices but how can a company successfully support its employees in balancing and flourishing both at work and home? Fundamentally, any approach taken needs to be inclusive and take into consideration all types of families, consisting of employees from all walks of life.
With that in mind, we’ve outlined five different ways that any workplace can become more family-friendly.
In the UK, statutory parental leave and pay are available to parents who are having a baby, using a surrogate, adopting, or fostering a child who they are planning to adopt. There are eligibility criteria for this related to minimum earnings and the time employed by the company, however, this leave can be shared by two partners.
Eligible employees are also entitled to take unpaid parental leave to look after their child’s welfare, but a company can extend unpaid parental leave to employees who aren’t eligible.
To be a more family-friendly workplace, an organisation can offer paid parental leave and pay above and beyond what is required by law. For example, an employer could allow more than 2 weeks of paternity leave and pay the employee their full wages during the time they are off. This would allow the employee time to bond with their child and acclimatise to such a significant change in their life without worrying about the impact this time off work will have on their finances.
Workplaces could also offer an amount of paid parental leave that parents could use at any time they wish. For instance, this time could be used to look after their child should they become unwell, to accompany their child on a school trip as a parent helper or during the summer holidays so that they don’t have to pay for childcare.
For working parents, the option for flexibility is incredibly important, with 86% of employees wanting to have this option but less than half actually being granted it.
In a study conducted by the Utah Women & Leadership Project, 94% of companies reported higher employee satisfaction as a result of offering flexibility and/or family-friendly arrangements to employees, so there’s certainly merit to offering flexible working.
Flexible working doesn’t just encompass working from home but a range of arrangements that allow employees to manage their family and work commitments harmoniously. Examples of flexible working also include:
- Compressed hours
- Split shifts
- Annualised hours
- Staggered hours
Breastfeeding in the workplace
According to a report by Peninsula, only 22% of UK bosses say that they provide designated breastfeeding spaces despite many parents still breastfeeding, even if not exclusively, beyond six months.
Providing breastfeeding or pumping areas in the workplace allows parents to continue the nursing routine they have with their child(ren) and not have to sacrifice this for their employment.
Any breastfeeding or pumping space should be private, comfortable, and sanitary. It should include somewhere where their milk can be stored, such as a fridge. Breastfeeding parents are also entitled to more breaks during the working day, and the time of frequency of these needs to be agreed upon.
In addition, when creating a designated space and any corresponding communications related to this, organisations need to be mindful of the terminology that they use. Not all parents who breastfeed or pump will identify as female or a mother.
Child and family care
In the UK, both parents work full time in more than half of families with only one child, and for families with three or more children, this figure is 39.5%. Even with significant numbers of two-parent families where both parents are employed full time, 9 in 10 parents who lived with a dependent child aged 0 to 4 years old felt worried about the rising costs of living.
Childcare can significantly contribute to the financial pressures for a family, with part-time nursery places costing in excess of £7,000 per year and daily after-school clubs equating to around £62 per week. These costs particularly impact single parents, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to seeking employment and affecting their standard of living.
In addition to this, there are 1.3 million members of the sandwich generation in the UK who are looking after ageing or ill parents on top of caring for their children.
Workplaces can improve inclusivity and diversity whilst supporting working families through the provision of effective child and family care. There are a variety of ways to do this including:
- In-house creches or nurseries
- Childcare vouchers/ subsidised childcare
- Discounts on goods and services
- Everyday assistance for family members
- Appointment chaperones
Around 15% of heterosexual couples experience fertility issues. There are also same-sex couples, single individuals and other people who can’t conceive via conventional methods.
Whilst some people are eligible for fertility treatment from the NHS, the criteria are stringent and some counties go against the NICE guidelines, offering no NHS fertility treatment at all. For many, this means they have no other avenue except expensive private fertility treatment, which isn’t possible for everyone either financially or for other reasons.
By providing employees with fertility benefits, you can give them the chance to add to their families, which is an opportunity that they may not have had otherwise. You also ensure an inclusive workplace that is helping to reduce the disparities in access to fertility treatment that currently exist for people of colour, non-married individuals, and those with non-heterosexual orientations.
Apryl is the UK’s leading fertility benefits provider for employers. If you want to find out more about how adding fertility benefits to your employee benefits package can make your workplace more family-friendly, why not get in touch?