I’m happy to announce my family has just expanded with a new addition! Not only am I a proud husband and dad, I love supporting and taking care of my family. They are the reason I do what I do. And I love what I do for work. I am passionate about my business and business’ success. We sometimes think of the two (family and work) as separate, and that we have to choose between them. But the success of each is more intricately linked than many people realize. After all, without people, products and services have no value. A business that supports the families of each team member will find many benefits. Here are a few…
But first, background and a question: While businesses focus on meeting the needs of the customers, their employees also need to be at the forefront of their minds. Employees are happier and more productive when their employers have a strong support system in place for the employee’s family. How do companies best support their employee’s families?
FINANCIAL & EMOTIONAL
Many employers underestimate the impact of maternity leave. Out of all the nations of the world, the United States is one of four countries that does not require paid maternity leave. I hope you’ve heard this before and I’m just repeating, but it is highly encouraged for the happiness and retention of employees to provide financial and emotional support through maternity leave. Google, for example, gives birth mothers eighteen weeks of paid maternity leave, twenty-two if there are complications. Non-primary caregivers are permitted seven weeks of paid leave.
Netflix is a rock start example and gives “as much time as they want” to primary caregivers in the first year after a birth or adoption. (Note: There are differences with the amount of time for birth mothers, primary caregivers, secondary caregivers, and adopted parents.) They encourage and promote parent/child bonding. Find a system that works best for you, your business, and your employees.
“Aflac’s workforce is 70 percent women, and approximately 70 percent of that female employee base is comprised of working mothers. More than 51 percent of the company’s supervisors are women with children; among VPs and higher, the number is 30 percent. A solid retention strategy for working mothers is vital to our business.” – Mechell Clark, media relations manager, Aflac
Another way that employers can be there for their employees and families is with the transition of new parents coming back into the workplace. Sometimes referred to as “Flex”, many companies allow new mothers into the workplace at their own pace with reduced hours, part-time, full-time, or on an as needed basis. Some women have reentered the workforce after having a baby and have gotten promoted. This flexibility shows these families that the company isn’t giving up on them and that women are supported both in career and contributing to future society.
“The last time we looked, 84 percent of women returned to work, and that’s a very high percentage,” says Maryella Gockel, flexibility strategy leader for Ernst & Young. “Some of it is just the ease of returning, the ability to go on a reduced schedule if you chose to; we are very proactive around what we call flexible work arrangements.” Ernst & Young doesn’t penalize workers for unconventional work schedules, either: “Since 1993, we’ve promoted well over 100 women who’ve worked a reduced schedule to our most senior levels,” Gockel notes. “So women realize that just because you’re on a reduced schedule it doesn’t mean you’ve hit a dead-end in your career.”
“Our employees are our number-one asset, so it’s extremely important to the company to provide valued benefits,” Melcher says. “These programs set us apart, and help Microsoft retain our valued employees and attract new talent.” –Microsoft
EMOTIONAL & TRAINING
Many companies show they care about families by providing counseling and other emotional support systems. Twitter holds a quarterly meeting for parents and new parents to ask questions about child rearing and share stories. Microsoft has monthly classes for new and expecting parents on pre-natal care to raising a child up to a year old. They have a special manager whose sole purpose is to answer questions, assist, and support employees with family related things.
Johnson and Johnson provides their products for free and even grocery and laundry pick up for their employees. Facebook gives parents $4000 of baby cash per child to aid in expenses. Many businesses, such as Microsoft and Aflac have a mother’s room for lactation and milk storage.
GOT YOU COVERED
When parents are working, one of their biggest concerns is, “Where are my kids going to go?” Aflac, and other forward-thinking companies, provide child care on-site. Aflac has the largest daycare facility in Georgia that cares for 600 children from 5:30 am to 11:30 pm. Parents visit during the day, and transportation to and from school and after-school programs are provided. This results in less separation anxiety for parents and children. Parents feel more connected with their children and they know their kids’ needs are met. This allows parents to focus and produce better at work. Ultimately, both business and family succeed.
So how do these programs help these companies? Their employees are happier, more productive, and have a higher morale. Employees feel valued and loyal to a company that’s loyal to them. There is lower employee turnover and absenteeism. It makes financial sense for businesses as well: When Union Bank started caring more for their employee’s families, they saved between $138,000 and $232,000. Employees also gained more wages because they could work longer time. Caring for families is the best way to care for your employees. When your employees are happy, your customers are happy, and your business is better all-around and for the long-term. Now who doesn’t want that?