Small Business Human Resources

Helping Employees Balance Work and Family

Written by Amy Bax for Gaebler Ventures

In the workforce today, there are many families where both parents work, single-parent households, and other types of family structures that put stress on the balance of work and family. Here are a couple ideas in helping your employees reduce this stress.

Today, many families are no longer embracing tradition roles where the man goes to work while the woman stays home and takes care of the children.

Helping Employees Balance Work and Family

In the modern workplace, there are often dual-career couples, single-parent families, and couples waiting until later in their lives to start families.

Because of the unpredictability of family emergencies, sick children, etc., this can raise issues when it comes to scheduling and time-off needs.

In this artice, we discuss some ways to address work-family balance issues that may arise with your employees.

Flextime and Shorter Work Weeks

Flextime is a schedule that is customized to an employee's needs- having varying start and end times. So, if a parent is responsible for dropping off the kids to school every day, instead of starting at eight every morning, they can come in at nine, but then stay until six to get a full forty hours in for the week.

Or, it may be the opposite. If the parent wants to be home more in the evening when their kids are home from school, they may opt to leave at four everyday if they make sure to start work at seven every morning.

Because you are catering to their needs, employee morale will most likely go up, along with increasingly better retention rates.

Along with helping out people with families, this has also become a popular option due to the rising costs of commuting. Instead of the traditional five-day, eight-hour work week, employees may opt to work a four-day, ten-hour work week or even a three-day, twelve-hour work week. This gives employees more free days to spend taking care of their kids, taking them to appointments, practice, etc.

Job Sharing

Job sharing is a situation set up where two or more people work the same job as what one full-time worker would. This works well for someone who is only available part-time who still wants to participate in projects and daily work that requires forty hours a week. This gives several employees the ability to keep their careers in check while also raising a family.

One Word of Caution When Helping Employees With Work-Family Balance

Do not forget about employees without immediate family that needs to be taken care of.

It is not fair to create "family friendly" programs and leave out employees that are single and do not have children. These employees are just as important when it comes to the success and productivity of a company, so become aware of unfair treatment. Asking them to travel more because they don't have a family at home, or staying late to cover for someone who had to go to a child's school function will create backlash.

When creating programs, allow these employees to also participate or consider different scheduling options. They, just like workers with families, will also have important appointments, people to consider, and other life obligations that need to be taken into account as well.

Finally, when starting a program such as the ones mentioned above, the most important thing is considering your employees. Try to understand their needs first, so that you are best able to cater to your employees. By just starting a program without really assessing their needs, you may not be helping anyone, just entertaining what seems to be a good idea.

Amy Bax is interested in providing innovative informational resources to entrepreneurs. She is currently an MBA student at the University of Missouri - Columbia.

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