70% of today’s workers, male or female, feel torn between family and work. Stress, divorce and broken families are the result. It’s time to create a family-friendly workplace! Don’t worry: You don’t have to build your own day-care center to run a family-friendly business. It’s much easier than that… All you need is to implement 4 simple strategies – and they come for free.
How To Make Your Company Family-Friendly
Meet Anna. She is 29 and well educated. For the past 5 years, she has been working herself up the corporate ladder. As head of marketing in a small business, she directly reports to the CEO and business-owner. Anna loves her job, and the job loves her back: they are great together. Except that Anna is 8 months pregnant.
Motherhood Penalty vs Fatherhood Bonus
It’s the year 2017. Sheryl Sandberg has taught working mothers to Lean In four years ago, after Anne-Marie Slaughter famously claimed that Women Still Can’t Have It All in 2012.
Yet, Anna’s unborn child still brings trouble to the workplace.
Working mothers do not fare well in the business world. On average, they are paid less than childless women, and even less than working fathers. With the exception of very high earners, where high-end childcare is possible at all times – sometimes in form of a built-in office-nursery. Moreover, working moms are perceived as less professional and less competent than their childless colleagues. They get fired more and hired less often.
Working fathers, on the other hand, seem to profit financially and professionally from having children: they earn more, get more responsibility, and generally seem more competent.
The Work-Family Conflict
Let’s say Anna returns to work right after giving birth, Lean-In style: Totally committed, putting in her hours (and more). Whenever she’s at home, she takes loving care of her baby; whenever she’s at work, she knows someone else will care for her child just as lovingly.
Sometimes she sneaks away to do motherly things like breast-feeding; and most of the time she feels exhausted. But hey, she’s leaning in! Emergency meeting at 5.30pm and an impromptu work dinner afterwards? No problem – Daddy’s taking over. A two-week workshop in Guatemala, starting next Tuesday? Anna’s got it covered: She’ll just take baby and nanny with her – on her own cost, of course.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Except that you might be thinking something in the lines of “poor baby” and “bad mother”. And you know what? Chances are that Anna thinks along these lines herself, even though they are not true.
We all are trapped in gender stereotypes. Or would you judge a man’s parenting skills by his commitment to work?Do you judge a man's parenting skills by his commitment to work? Click To Tweet
Get Rid Of Gender Stereotypes!
Dads can happily while away their time with after-work drinks and still be seen as “great dads”. Working moms are set up to lose at both their profession and at parenting. Even though research has shown that having a working mother is good for kids, working mothers are trapped in deadly gender stereotypes.
But it’s not only the moms. According to the 2017 Modern Family Index, 53% of young fathers would like to trade in their current job for a less stressful one – and spend more time with their families. The downside? Fathers who take on family responsibilities might get a lot of applause, but they increasingly lose on the career ladder, just like the women do.
To create a family-friendly work environment, you need to empower both Moms and Dads to be committed employees and great caregivers at once.Empower both Moms and Dads to be committed employees and great caregivers at once. Click To Tweet
As their employer, it’s in your hands to make a difference.
4 Strategies To Create A Family-friendly Workplace
1. Introduce Flextime
Let Anna decide when she puts in her hours, and you’ll have a very motivated and loyal employee. It’s as easy as that.
Flextime or flexi-time can be partial (e.g. people have to be at the office from 10am – 3pm) or total, allowing family workers to schedule pick-ups from school, doctors visits and other familiar matters. You will see: accountability is a very high motivator. If employees control their own schedule, they are reportedly more satisfied, more efficient and more committed to their job.
2. Let Them Work From Home
Anna’s baby is sick. Instead of taking the day off, she logs into her time tracker, checks her e-mail and starts working – all while baby is sleeping off its fever.
If you enable your employers to work from home, they can stay home with a sick child and still meet your deadline – a win-win-situation. If used right, telecommuting or home office is a very good tool to solve the work-family conflict; and with today’s online business solutions, it is as easy as never before.
3. Limit Your Meetings
“What about the meetings?” Annas boss is worried how flextime and home office will affect the staff. “No worries”, Anna says. “I’ll make sure to work my schedule around them. Most of the time we use Skype for client meetings anyway, don’t we?”
Number one worry for employers concerning flexible hours and home office are the meetings: With everybody coming in and out at their wish, it will be impossible to schedule them. Rest assured. It is highly improbable that your employees start to work at night and sleep during day-time. It is in their own interest to get their jobs done within reasonable hours. Make it easy for them and limit your meetings to a family-friendly schedule. Using new forms of communication like Slack or Skype, and making any meeting as efficient as possible won’t hurt, either.
4. Create Part-Time Jobs or Jobsharing
“I’d like to have Fridays off”, Anna says, “until everything is settled.” As her employer, you are worried: How will you replace Anna during her absence? Anna has a solution already: She found a talented marketing student, eager to earn some money and work experience – and ready to take over on Fridays. Now you have two talents for the price of one.
Many small business owners are scared of job-sharing or part-time employees. But they don’t have to be! Part-time workers and job-sharers usually are highly motivated, very efficient and more committed to their job than full-time employees. Trust them, and they’ll make it work. Especially with today’s technical possibilities, like online team time tracking.
The Price for Running a Family-Friendly Business? Nothing.
The price you pay for being family-friendly? Absolutely nothing. There is no financial profit, nor is there financial loss, says a study from 2011. Investment and return are at perfect balance.
Except, of course, for the return you can’t measure: A healthier, happier work environment and families that have the time and energy to nourish and grow. Just as they should.
What about you? What is your strategy to overcome the work-family conflict?