Paid maternity leave is great, but only the beginning. How to support family-friendly workplaces.

Beyond Paid Maternity Leave: 5 Ways to Create a Family-Friendly Workplace

Posted June 16, 2016 by Kristin Hoppe in Benefits and Perks
Paid maternity leave is important, but only the beginning of a family-friendly policy. Here's how to support working parents and win the best talent.

As the competition for top talent continues, more companies are offering generous parental leave plans. And for good reason — joining companies with family-friendly policies is incredibly important to employees.

According to the US Department of Labor, 62% of women who gave birth in the last 12 months are working. And 90% of men said an employer offering paid leave is an important factor in considering a new job.

Numerous studies have shown that workplaces without paid parental leave suffer, with lower employee retention and higher turnover costs.

But a family-friendly workplace isn’t limited solely to paid parental leave. It also stretches into other forms of institutional support.

While 30% of women with children don’t participate in the workforce, nearly three quarters of those women said they’d return to their careers if provided with more flexible work hours.

From paid leave to flexible work hours, companies with family-friendly policies can compete for the best talent possible. Here’s how to lay the foundation for a family-friendly company that thrives.

Institute Paid Parental Leave

It’s not just women in the workforce who want the benefit — as we said above, 90% of dads find it important for their company to offer paid parental leave.

If your company has 50 or more employees, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires you to provide at least 12 workweeks of unpaid leave for parents of newborn and adopted children.

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However, the list of companies that go above and beyond this minimum is steadily growing. Netflix offers unlimited paid parental leave, Facebook offers 16 weeks and $4,000 in “baby” cash, and Instagram and Reddit give 17 weeks of paid leave for both moms and dads.

Even if your company can’t afford lavish baby bonuses, giving parents time to rest and recover after a huge transition won’t only make you a popular employer, it will also cultivate employee retention and support the longevity of your company.

Related article: Setting Up Your First Maternity Leave Policy

Provide Flexible Work Hours

Doctors appointments, extracurriculars, and school pickup can make a rigid 9-5 schedule difficult to manage. Employees with dependent family members benefit exponentially from a flexible schedule.

Luckily, offering employees flexible work schedules is easier than ever with laptops and ubiquitous wifi. At Justworks, we notify team members a bit ahead of time when we’re running late or have an appointment. Other than that, the most important factor is getting the work done.

If certain roles such as customer service require more structured hours, offer employees a compressed work week similar to summer Fridays. As Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp wrote in a New York Times editorial, switching his company to four days a week led to “the greatest burst of creativity I’ve ever seen from our 34 member staff.” It also boosted employee happiness and morale, and productivity.

Support Nursing Mothers

In accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), companies with 50 or more employees are required to offer nursing women a reasonable break time and private setting other than a bathroom.

Employers with less than 50 employees are exempt from this legislation if they can prove accommodating a nursing mother won’t provide undue hardship. The Wage and Hour Division offers a helpful FAQ about the details here.

This also gives your company a great opportunity to show your employees how much you value them — along with a fun excuse to decorate. You can find plenty of creative solutions, from shared space with other businesses to permanently dedicated rooms.

Offer Inclusive Family Benefits

Does your company offer healthcare benefits for both employees and their dependents? Look into additional perks to help draw in (and keep) talent. Justworks provides personalized health insurance support through Health Advocate, which allows employees to get specialized support for children, parents, domestic partners, and even parents-in-law at no extra cost.

Throw Family-Friendly Events

Happy hours or dinners out tend to be companies’ go-to team building events — especially when your team is small. However, as your company matures and grows, it’s important to throw more inclusive events where people can bring their family members and feel comfortable.

Plan events where family members will be welcome. You can do this by:

  • Choosing an appropriate venue
  • Providing childcare during an event
  • Offering kid-friendly treats
  • Setting up a table for drawing and games
  • Giving away free swag in smaller sizes
  • Hosting an event during work hours

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Providing family-friendly perks promotes workplace wellness and will make your company even stronger in the long run. What does your business do to include families day to day? Tweet us @JustworksHR and let us know!

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.