Perks and benefits.

4 Policies That Encourage a Family-Friendly Company Culture

Posted October 6, 2016 by Jamie Nichol in Benefits and Perks
The landscape for working parents is changing. Stay competitive and retain the best talent by offering flexible family policies.

When an employees walks into the office, they bring with them their entire context — their experience, their emotions, and their responsibilities. This all affects how an employee performs, how they relate to others in the workplace, and how they view their company.

And for many of us, family is a key component of this context. By fostering a family-friendly culture, your company shows employees that you embrace their full context, and that you view them as people not just employees.

Informal activities, such as throwing family-friendly events, hosting a bring-your-kids-to-work day, or participating in conversations about others’ families, are a great start. However, at the end of the day, if your company doesn’t have formal policies or benefits in place, employees will start to seek companies that do.

Here are four policies for you to consider to foster a family-friendly company culture:

Generous Paid Parental Leave

According to a 2015 SHRM survey, only 17% of employers provide paid paternity leave, which is one of the reasons Netflix and Microsoft made such a splash last year when they declared their expanded parental leave policy for both mothers and fathers.

More and more of the biggest brands in the country are joining Netflix and Microsoft by implementing similar policies (check out a list here). And it isn’t just large companies that are making this a priority. Button, a New York-based startup, offers 17 weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave.

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Paternity leave not only increases bonding between the father and child, but it also plays a role in closing the gender gap. Paternity leave policies are shown to “boost male participation in the household, enhance female participation in the labor force, and promote gender equity in both domains,” according to an article in the Atlantic.

Reworking your parental leave policy — and creating the culture to support it — is one of the biggest things you can do to create a more equal, family-friendly company. Consider not only the length of leave, but also who gets access and how leaders supports the policy.

Flexible Working Arrangements

Flexible working arrangements — from flextime to remote working — make it easier (and less stressful!) for employees to fulfill their parental responsibilities, such as taking children to appointments or attending important school functions.

When crafting your policy, draw inspiration from companies that have successfully implemented these arrangements and combine it with what works best for your team. And there’s no need to guess at that part -- survey your employees to understand their specific needs and have an honest conversation with leadership.

Fertility and Adoption Benefits

One in eight couples struggle with fertility, meaning that this probably affects some of your employees. Companies can offer fertility benefit coverage to assist with the expensive treatments.

For example, Intel now provides $40,000 of coverage for medical services and $20,000 for prescription services — quadrupling their coverage from the previous policy!

Offering financial assistance for adoption is another family-friendly option. SHRM explains that this benefit tends to be inexpensive because few employees ever use the option. Even so, the benefit has a positive impact on how employees (nonusers and users of the benefit) feel about their company.

Daycare Assistance

Childcare is often the largest expense for families, and according to a Care.com survey, 69% of parents say that it affects their career decisions. Therefore, whether you provide on-site daycare, dependent care flexible spending accounts, or child care subsidies, assisting with childcare can go a long way to help employees, and thereby retain your most important asset.

Remember, with each of these suggestions — especially the flexible work and parental leave options — the presence of a policy is only part of the equation. It’s equally important that employees feel comfortable using the options available to them.

What does that look like? Leaders can set an example by using the policies, managers can have an open dialogue with their direct reports, and employees can support each other in maintaining a family-friendly culture.

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.