Top 10 Tips... How to be a more family friendly business
8th February, 2018
For many organisations, the tradition of working 9-5 is long gone. Businesses must adapt their working schedules to people’s modern lives to be in with a chance of employing the cream of the crop and for the benefit of their customers or clients.
Supporting our employees to balance their work and home lives can be difficult, especially as people’s lives are constantly evolving – from having children, taking a sabbatical, caring for others and pursuing personal challenges.
Being a family oriented organisation, so your employees can juggle all these responsibilities and ambitions easily, is becoming more important than ever before, and that includes everything from offering flexible working hours to remembering your colleagues’ birthdays.
Here are our top tips for becoming a family friendly business:
1. Offer flexible working hours
Flexible working hours aren’t just for parents with small children any more. There may be many reasons why an employee would want to work their agreed hours differently. Depending on the industry you’re in, it won’t suit all businesses. But by being open minded about working hours, your employees will feel more valued and less likely to look for alternative employment where they can get the flexibility they need.
2. Allow home working
Many employees say they feel more productive, happy and creative if they work from home rather than the office. The benefits for employees include less distractions and no daily commute. But this can be a daunting prospect for any employer. How will you keep track of what your employees are working on and not skiving off? The key is trust and an understanding between you and the employee about what level of work is expected.
3. Engage with your workforce
Before you engage with your employees you need to be certain you are willing to take on board what they recommend.
Carrying out a survey is a good starting point, but ideas and input can come from one-to-one meetings, informal discussions, team away days, an online survey or focus groups.
Whilst respecting privacy and confidentiality, find out from employees how family friendly they find your company’s current policies and practice within the organisation and how things could be improved.
4. Support parents returning from a career break
It can be a daunting experience returning to the world of work after taking a career break to raise children. Many people can feel their skills are outdated and they have little to offer after spending so much time at home rather than in an office environment. But by offering flexible hours, the opportunity to work from home and any re-training and mentoring, you will attract talented and motivated people who just need an extra helping hand getting back into work.
5. Don’t expect promotion to be a priority
Climbing the career ladder for an employee returning to work after starting a family, a sabbatical or long-term illness may not be a priority for them. They may feel more confident and relaxed getting their head down and working hard while managing their personal lives well without thinking about the next big promotion or where their career might take them. Being a more family friendly organisation means respecting people’s level of ambitiousness at certain times in their life and not pushing them to achieve more than they are ready for, even if you see their potential.
6. Help your employees get their work/life balance right
We spend most of our lives at work but balancing employment with busy families, hobbies and holidays can be hard. Many of us can feel torn between the pressures of our work and home lives, particularly as technology now means workers are contactable around the clock. We all need to earn a living, but we also want time with our families and space to do the things we enjoy. You are more likely to have a happy workforce if you allow, within reason, some time for colleagues to deal with family issues. Allowing staff to use their lieu time in emergencies, for example, will help everyone feel more relaxed and happier at work, knowing if something does crop up, they have your support.
7. Showcase your family friendly values
Whether you’re a large or small business, you should have some strategic objectives which showcase your ambitions. You may also have a mission to guide you and a set of values which show how you will work towards achieving your ambitions. This should ideally be developed in collaboration with your team so they feel a sense of ownership and pride in the organisation. If you are a supportive and compassionate family friendly business, whatever size you are, then it’s essential you include this information in your mission, vision and values.
8. Coach your colleagues
Whether at work or school, we’ve all had inspiring mentors who have made a lasting impression on us. A buddy system is a great way to bring people together from different parts of the business. Employing people who are passionate about helping their team mates to succeed is essential if you want your team to perform well. Alternatively, if you don’t already have colleagues with the coaching skills required, you could hire an external partner. They need to be experienced and accredited but also have the right outlook and ethos to fit in with your existing team.
9. Involve colleagues in your CSR strategy
Developing your CSR strategy with your colleagues is incredibly important if you want them to feel part of the decision making process. The charity or cause you support should be something which not only reflects the company’s values but which everyone feels passionately about. The answer may also be right under your nose as your employees will all have a charity close to their hearts which they’d feel proud if their employer and colleagues also supported.
10. Encourage your employees to take their holidays
We all (should) work to live, even if we love our jobs. And living well means enjoying our time off with our families and friends. You should encourage your employees to take all their time off – whether it’s bank holidays, annual leave or accrued lieu time so they return feeling refreshed and motivated. Low staffing levels in school break times and summer can have a big impact on smaller businesses, so make it as easy as possible by planning in advance. If you have lots of people wanting school holidays off, then work together to come to an agreement that everyone is happy with.
Julie Gordon is the Managing Director of cHRysos HR Solutions, a Doncaster based HR training and consultancy company providing CIPD and CMI accredited qualifications nationwide, as well as HR Consultancy to SMEs. Contact Julie on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1302 802128.