Note from the Editor | Family Friendly Work Policies

by Katie Watkins on Thursday, May 31, 2018

Authored by:
Seema Dhindaw
Co-editor, Catalyst

Katie Watkins
Co-editor, Catalyst


The months of May and June bring celebrations for mothers and fathers across the land. It’s fitting, therefore, to take a look at how we juggle responsibilities between our work and home lives. The terms “mother,” father,” and “caretaker” can be used interchangeably, as we recognize that we live in an era of the “sandwich generation,” a generation of people, typically in their thirties or forties, responsible for bringing up their children along with caring for aging parents. Let us not forget that grandparents are taking on child-rearing responsibilities in increasing numbers (sometimes with no warning), which multiplies the responsibilities placed on workers of today.  It’s no wonder that we are sometimes conflicted about whether to stay home with a sick child or attend that important business meeting.

Family-friendly policies (or lack thereof) can make or break the workplace experience and can be the difference between a happy employee and dissatisfied employee. Getting kids off to school or a parent off to a day facility, emergency doctor appointments, dance recitals and daycare snafus are all life events that compete with our work priorities. Evidence suggests that family friendly policies can make for a more satisfied worker and may lessen the guilty feelings that occur when one is faced with choosing between devoting time to family issues or work priorities. Recruitment and retention, absenteeism and job satisfaction are all affected by a company’s personnel policies. According to Sodexo’s 2015 Workplace Trends Report, family friendly policies can aid in increasing employee morale, job satisfaction, and productivity, while reducing absenteeism and disengagement.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the nearly 90% of American families with children in 2015, at least one parent was employed. For the parents in these families, trying to find a balance between work obligations and family demands can be all-consuming and exhausting.  

A December 16, 2016 Business News Daily article titled Retail Employees with Family-Friendly Workplace Policies describes the family-friendly policies that employees deemed important:  

  • 79% of employees named flexible hours as the family-friendly perk that would best convince them to work for an employer, but only 68% of employers actually offered that option.
  • Just 3% of employees said maternity and paternity leave policies would influence where they decided to work, but nearly 80% of employers offer those policies. 
  • Just 2% of workers said they want their employers to offer child care programs.  However, 18% of the organizations surveyed offer those policies.

Based on this report, there seems to be a disconnect between what workers really want and need, and what employers are willing to offer. 

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