How to Create a Family Friendly Workplace


February’s Family Day offers an opportunity for people to take a day off and spend time with their families. This doesn’t have to be the only way that you create a Family Friendly workplace. Often, employers use the term “family friendly” to attract people as a part of their recruitment strategy, but when you really look inside the organization, you don’t see a lot of evidence of it.

A few thoughts came to mind about how an employer could acknowledge those that are really putting in 100% at the potential sacrifice to their families and how they can truly embody the term “family friendly”. I want to share those with you in the hopes that you can begin to implement ideas like these in your organization.

Here are 7 simple ideas to implement that will make your workplace more family friendly:

  • Create a Company Family Day – let employees expense a family outing or a “pizza dinner out with the kids night” for a total of $50. Something that encourages some family time – pizza night, movie night, sporting event.
  • Mother’s Day is in May – Father’s Day in June. What can you do to acknowledge everyone in the company who is a mom or a dad?
  • Maybe a message from the Company Owner or President directly to an employee to say “thanks for all you do – we appreciate your efforts in balancing work and home”. Make it random throughout a month as to who you choose to send the thank you to.
  • For employees who travel a lot – Do you know if all families have the capacity to skype when their parent is away? Maybe build into your benefits program the ability to expense a webcam for their home computer (these are dirt cheap at $20 but send a great message). Also a great message when someone starts in a travelling role – sets the feeling that you are paying attention right from day one.
  • Set up a monthly or quarterly surprise for the spouse/partner – each month/quarter pick a person who has been travelling a lot and send the spouse flowers or a Gift card to say thanks for the efforts you put in. Or if there is someone who has been away from their kids a lot, maybe a gift card to a toy store – a “take your kid shopping on us” as a thank you. You could do this on an ad hoc basis or make it more formal and this again sends a great message. Making it a surprise is also showing a genuine sense of caring.
  • Do you have an RESP program? Great way for employees to implement a long term savings programs for their kids.
  • Send an email to the spouses of employees reminding them of the great benefits package that you have that includes massage treatments without a referral from a doctor. Make it a “we appreciate you and the support you give to our employee, your husband ‘Joe’”. Again, this doesn’t have to be for just those with kids.

Some people might find this stuff cheesy and others will say/think “I love working at {insert the name of your company} because they really care and they get what it means to be a working parent”. Or, “I love working here because they understand that I have a life outside of work – it makes me give 110%”. This may sound like pretty touchy-feely HR speak but it is proven to work! And…

Upwards of 38% of employees cite the ability to manage work and life as a predictor of job satisfaction.

Times are changing again and it is things like these that companies are going to have to do more and more to set them apart from the crowd when it comes to recruitment, attraction and retention of staff.  We are through the recession and heading into the labour shortage again. It’s becoming the dreaded “Employee Market” and things are going to get tougher than they are already are when it comes to finding and keeping good people. Adding these kinds of small things to your culture will make a difference! I know it takes work and costs money but so does the cost of not being able to keep the great staff you have.

Your Engaged Assignment: Take 10 minutes right now and write a thank-you card an employee who has been going above and beyond at the sacrifice of spending time at home. Give them permission to take their spouse/kids/friend for dinner and expense it to the company. Watch the surprise and appreciation that is returned to you. Tell us how it goes!