In the corporate world, the notion that career success must come at the expense of family life is widespread. Yet, the truth is that a balanced approach to work and home can significantly enhance both employee well-being and organisational performance. Creating a family-friendly work culture not only helps in retaining employees but also boosts their productivity and engagement.

Companies that support their employees’ family lives see tangible benefits. A study by the International Centre for Work Family at IESE Business School found that employees in family-friendly workplaces perform up to 19 percent better. Moreover, the respect and support for family time serve as powerful retention tools, making employees more loyal and motivated.

Here are five key strategies to foster such an environment:

Addressing the challenges of an “Always-On” culture

While technology has been hugely helpful for executives to keep up with their personal lives, while also keeping a close eye on projects and developments at the workplace, this flexibility does come with its downsides. Indeed, the 2020 Modern Families Index reported that 47 percent of working parents feel that technology has blurred the boundaries between work and home. Companies can mitigate this by using dedicated business communication platforms like Slack, helping employees disconnect after work hours and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Enhancing paternity leave policies

A balanced work culture should equally support both men and women. The rate of men taking paternity leave has increased significantly, highlighting the importance of offering robust paternity leave policies. For instance, Netflix allows new fathers up to a year of paid parental leave, and Facebook provides four months of leave that can be taken within the first year of the child’s life. Such policies ensure that fathers also benefit from dedicated family time, contributing to a more balanced work culture.

In Malta, fathers must be given a paltry 10 days of leave immediately after the birth of their child, however there is nothing stopping employers from improving their paternity leave policies.

Adopting flexible working practices

One of the most effective ways to support employees’ family lives is through flexible working arrangements. Flexible hours and remote work can help parents spend more time with their children, manage family obligations, and reduce childcare costs.

Supporting elderly care

With aging populations, many employees face the challenge of caring for elderly relatives, which can impact their professional lives. MetLife estimates that this responsibility costs companies $34 billion annually due to absenteeism and lost productivity. Companies can support these employees through elderly care programs that offer resources like information on care services, geriatric assessments, and workplace support groups, thus alleviating some of the burden.

Providing childcare support

Childcare remains a critical issue for many working parents, yet few companies offer substantial support. The Society for Human Resource Management’s 2019 US-based survey found that only four per cent of companies provide subsidised childcare programs.

Companies can step in by offering extended family caregiver leave, as Google did, or providing discounts on childcare products and educational materials. Allowing employees to use a portion of their salaries for additional benefits like extra holidays or childcare services can also be a valuable support mechanism.

By implementing these strategies, companies can create a supportive and family-friendly work environment. Such an approach not only enhances employee well-being but also drives higher performance and loyalty, benefiting the organisation as a whole.

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