Family-Friendly Workplace is the call of the day…an urgent requirement if employers need more productivity, more returns, the best employees, and to retain female employees...
You are a working woman, married and a mom. Imagine you are in an important office meeting with your boss and just then your child’s class teacher calls you saying that your child is not well and needs to be picked up from school. What do you do? Consider another situation. You are a new mom on maternity leave and your leave will get over in just a few days and you have to join back office. What do you do? Consider yourself as the mother who is working but has a toddler at home who constantly needs attention. Consider yourself as the daughter/daughter-in-law who is finding difficult to stick to her job while taking care of her mother/mother-in-law who just had a major surgery.
These are many such conflicting situations that almost all professional women face at the workplace, be they are married or unmarried. When both the husband and the wife in a home are working, trying to maintain the balance between work demands and family obligations can be very exhausting and difficult. The end result is that it is the woman of the house who makes the sacrifice of giving up her professional career midway. Many professional women have turned down job offers because these conflicted with their family responsibilities. No wonder the gender gap still exists in our country.
Need for family-friendly practices at workplaces
Don’t you think its time for employers to take note of these common issues and find a solution? Don’t you think that companies should implement a host of family-friendly policies that will help them recruit and retain the best female employees? These family-friendly policies will definitely help in expanding job satisfaction, employee morale, and productivity while at the same time it will reduce absenteeism and disengagement. While some major companies like Google, Infosys have already started with such policy measures, there is still a long time to go for companies, big and small to implement such practices.
Different family-friendly practices at workplaces
While family-friendly workplace policies can take many forms, employers should look beyond the basics if they really want to impress and retain their female workers. Some policies that can be adopted:
This is perhaps the most popular benefit for working parents. Allow your employees to flexi-workshifts, like in the form of job sharing, shift work, a compressed work week, work from home, teleworking, or just the liberty to change work hours when needed. All of these flexible work options help your female employees to be empowered more as they get the freedom to arrange their work schedules on their own where they feel more responsible towards their work and at the same time they can accommodate their family life and personal needs.
Paid family leave
In many organizations in India, especially the government and public sector companies, there is the provision of LTC or Leave Travel Concession, which the employees can avail for a holiday. But, this is not provided by private companies. So, another policy that employers can adopt is offering a paid family leave once in a year in which it is mandatory for the employees to make use of it and travel with their families in any part of the country. A family holiday definitely gives a much-needed break that working professionals require.
Other family related leave options
Employers can also think of providing other paid, family-related leave options like as family leave to care for an elderly parent or an ill family member or a sabbatical leave for employees to rejuvenate themselves and to help ease the transition as they return to work. There can be leave options too, when the school is closed. Paternity leave can be extended and so on.
Child care help
Child care help at work is very essential. There can be creche facilities, there can be day-care facilities within the office premises. This allows female professionals to work without taking any stress of leaving their child at home when the school is closed and their office is open.
For new moms, who are lactating mothers, there should be the provision of allowing them to take breaks during office hours to breastfeed their baby and a private place to do the same.
These kind of services are very new and mostly adopted in Western countries. Its time that Indian employers should also follow the policy of providing concierge services. Thes include grocery shopping, running small household errands, event planning, dry cleaning, picking up kids from tuitions and so on. These services are especially favorable to working parents, because it allows them to reduce some of their household tasks that take some of their precious time which they could have spent with their families at the end of office hours.
Family bonding activities
There is no doubt that family-friendly workplaces build a sense of community among colleagues. Employers should come up with events, special occasions, parties, and other activities to let all employees and their families to come together in and outside of the office. These fun family events, organized time-to-time, will lead to more bonding, not only among the co-workers but also among their families.
To sum up
Since all families – and all organizations – are different, no single or common approach can be followed to create a more family-friendly work environment. But, it is time for employers to listen to employees’ personal needs and family situations and customize a plan that fits all— within the framework of company’s policies and processes.