Businesses can establish a work environment that enable employees to effectively balance and fulfil their work and family responsibilities at the same time.
Recently I was attending a meeting with a new client in their boardroom and thought I heard a baby’s toy being squeezed. I assumed I was imagining it until it happened again, and then I looked across the room only to see a baby sitting in a cot in the corner playing. Her mum was one of the 2 people meeting me, and she said – oh yes that is my baby – my MD (who was with us at the meeting) is very good about allowing me to bring her in if I need to.
What a difference from 5 – 10 years ago – when women could not even consider taking much time off for maternity leave – whilst now most mothers can (with holidays and unpaid leave) take up to 12 months off following the birth of a child.
In the Irish Times recently, it showed a video of the Speaker of the Houses of Parliament in New Zealand, Trevor Mallard, feeding and comforting a 6-week-old baby of one of the MPs, whilst he still managed to control the session in the House. He hopes that he is setting the right example as New Zealand already has only the second elected world leader with its Prime Minister Jacinta Arden who gave birth and took maternity leave – she continues to champion family friendly policies throughout her country and beyond.
How can you be family friendly and continue to run a competitive, profitable, and engaging business for employees? Here are our 5 tips:
- Embrace the fact that your female employees are as critical to the business as males, and that preparing for maternity/paternity/parental leaves in a positive way can be a real plus for employees – who will show more loyalty and dedication if they know that you are genuine in supporting them.
- Make sure that your policies really are family friendly and not just covering a compliance need. Even offering a parent’s return to work course can be really helpful. Give a returning mum time to re-adjust by taking a phased return, and/or by having an induction plan (as if they are new employee – 12 months out is as good as starting a new job).
- Have social events that give families an opportunity to be involved in the workplace- this doesn’t need to be costly. Many companies offer a ‘bring your child to work day’, ‘bring your parent to work day’ (depending on what your demographics are) – or organise a fun afternoon in the summer.
- Consider flexible working if you don’t do it already- some companies have real difficulties with this as they need consistent working hours (Call centres, manufacturing line businesses etc.) but most businesses can allow some flexibility – even if it is only in place during term-time or summer time (early/late starting – time off at lunch to collect a child etc.) A flexible employer will find that this type of benefit is far more valuable than financial increases that only get taxed.
- Encourage work-life balance – yes of course you want your employees to work smart and hard, however if they are working excessive hours, working at home in the evenings, taking conference calls late into the night – and trying to manage family life – they won’t have the energy for both – they will become burnt out and your business will suffer. Work-life balance can mean that you have happy, reliable, and loyal employees who value the culture you have developed.
We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.