What makes a family friendly workplace? Parental leave is obviously a very hot topic – and has been for some years now.  And rightly so, there is a lot lacking in the value we place on parents, their responsibilities and what they add to the workforce.

“In fact, rearing children is some of the most essential and productive work done in our economy. Few occupations have as much impact on or greater returns for our future as parenting.” Andie Fox

Some companies have understood the value of retention and family life and have established exceptional conditions for expectant and existing families.

Let’s be clear, they’re not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.

What these progressive companies have realised is that by aligning family and work values, they are fostering positive and long term employee relations – employee loyalty and retention and productivity. And what they have also realised is that it makes them highly attractive to external candidates as well.

People value being looked after, and want to know that whatever their life stage the company they work for will be supportive.  And generally, employees reward their companies’ right back.

“Most turnover isn’t productive, and many organisations face this mass exodus of working mothers and even fathers. As employers, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to lose talent just because we aren’t having conversations with employees about the best way to align work and family and making the often small adjustments that will keep them around.” Allison O’Kelly, Founder and CEO, Mom Corps

Navigating parenthood is complicated.  It affects every aspect of your life from pre-conception, through pregnancy, birth and beyond.

Given that most professionals in fast paced, large industries spend most of their waking hours at work the two are inextricably linked.

Four simple things a workplace can offer for support:

  1. Pregnancy in some workplaces can be a taboo subject with people concerned about saying the wrong thing or being inappropriate.  Rather than shying away from it, have a pregnancy pack ready to go for expectant parents.
  2. Providing a flexible working environment allows for people to maintain their productivity, reduces unnecessary stress and continue in the workforce for as long as possible. Allowing people to work from home, or work irregular hours in the office can help balance some of the potential physical challenges of pregnancy. Set clear boundaries and expectations and outline opportunities to bend a rigid work week.
  3. Returning to work can be daunting, particularly for those that have been out of the workplace for a year or more. Having a discussion and creating a plan around staying in touch during maternity leave as well as a returning to work can help foster positivity and ease any tension.
  4. Assist with childcare in any number of ways including something simple like setting up a preferred partner relationship with facilities in the area around your workplace or with a larger network that has multiple centres.

Intrigued about what the most progressive global workplaces offer their employees?

“Google jobs are some of the most sought after positions in the entire tech industry. Employees who work for the search giant don’t have to worry about much besides their work. Google says, “the array of benefits of perks aim to ensure that Googlers remain happy and healthy in all aspects of their lives.”  Kevin Smith

  1. Parent leave bonus & return to work bonus.
  2. Parental leave – extra paid time off in addition to the government allowance.
  3. Shopping and/or house cleaning vouchers – to assist with nappy and feeding costs.
  4. Parking space near the door for pregnant workers.
  5. Private concierge service.
  6. Healthy cooking lessons.
  7. Subsidised or preferred partner deals for healthy home meal options.
  8. After school programs for under 12 year-olds.
  9. Lactation rooms for nursing mothers.
  10. Preferred partner deals with, for example, nanny services and physical therapy.
  11. Telecommuting technologies to create home offices.
  12. Flexible work arrangements e.g. start/end times, work sharing.
  13. Dry cleaning / washing services with at work pick up and drop off.
  14. Paid time off for school related absences.
  15. Support services: e.g. professional development, mentoring and training (live, web based or video), healthy living e.g. stress management, weight loss, fitness open for all including those on parental leave.

Do you have a family friendly workplace? How does your workplace help you? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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  • I used to work in a caravan, camping and accommodation park. This was great to take the kids to. There was a park and lots of other kids, they loved it


  • This is interesting! Thank you for sharing this!


  • My workplace has all the policies in place but they don’t seem to have the correct impact in my area. There seems to be a negative perception around part time workers that won’t go away and difficulty in changing mindset.


  • I work from home so glad it was an option love being home with my little man


  • I would love a workplace that understand family commitments. Flexible hours and from home would be super.


  • I shift work and choose the days I want


  • sounds awesome and looks great


  • Flexible hours that allow you to work around your children as well as the opportunity to have babies close by to still breast feed on demand.


  • I am really going to get howled down about my comment but hey I have broad shoulders. I feel we are asking way to much from companies, I do agree some companies are lacking and dropping behind others and yes they need to raise the bar, but we can not continue to ask and demand for more time off (due to a sick child etc). Companies are a business and we agree to hours and working conditions when we accept to be their employee. If we have a sick child and need to be home with the child instead of at work then maybe we need to be a stay at home mum or dad or have a company that is fine with this situation as it has been agreed to before your hiring and this is seen as OK, if not then parents should have a back up plan and more of a carer who can look after the child till the parent is finished work.
    In-conclusion make employers aware of your needs, wants and requirements before you accept a position and agree to flexible hours, or making up lost time or perhaps working from home when need be instead of just (lets say) taking a sickie because you have a sick child or you want to attend the Melbourne Cup.
    Now I am waiting for the back lash.. but please remember everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. thanks. :-)


  • Companies should jump on the bandwagon regarding this important issue if they haven’t already.


  • My workplace is fairly family friendly. With technology, we do have the option of working from home if we have a sick child. We can even connect to meetings using the camera on our laptop and wifi.


  • This article is a great advertisement for Google! My work has kept in touch over my maternity leave, many of my team offering to catch up for a coffee so I could get out of the house. I feel supported and feel loyal to the company.


  • If only I could get a job at Google! It is really hard to be a working mum and to try and juggle everyone and everything.


  • flexibility is more important for mums who are working.


  • Thanks for this interesting read.
    Bosses definately need to ensure the work environment is flexible for parents.


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