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Business Insights for Women
PNC INSIGHTS Magazine Spring/Summer 2014 Issue
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How to create work-life policies that benefit all of your employees.

So you've done your best to make your organization family friendly, with policies such as flextime and telecommuting that promote work-life balance. Depending on how you implement these policies, though, you may be alienating a growing segment of the workforce: nonparents.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, families with children under 18 are in decline, from 48 percent in 2001 to 44 percent in 2011. Over the same period, single-member households have increased from 26 percent to 28 percent.

Working parents and nonparents have the same positive opinions about work-life balance and company benefits that support it. However, according to a survey by staffing agency Adecco, 60 percent of working mothers and 70 percent of working fathers say that everyone in their workplace has the same access to these benefits--while only 44 percent of nonparents agree. This disparity can apply to written policy, such as maternity and paternity leave, as well as informal decision-making, such as giving parents preferential vacation date selection, and making special allowances for them regarding meeting attendance, travel and overtime, weekend and holiday work. In these cases, employees without children were more likely to feel that they'd taken on additional work and stress to make up for their peers with parental responsibilities.

Here are a few ways to ensure that all of your employees get the most from work-life benefits:

  1. Broaden the definition of flextime and other benefits to encompass obligations such as caring for older or ill family members as well as children, or even "household responsibilities," which can encompass these and other concerns, including vehicle sharing arrangements, pet care, utility appointments and more.

  2. If you provide maternity or paternity benefits beyond those required by law, consider offering comparable time off for special events--such as serious athletic event training or graduate school classes--unrelated to parenting.

  3. Issue guidelines for managers to ensure that they are not favoring one group over another when it comes to vacation dates or other scheduling requests.

  4. Consider creating a menu of benefits from which employees can choose to create equally valuable packages. A parent might choose on-site childcare, while a nonparent might opt for a gym membership.

Workplace flexibility is a boon to employees and employers alike, increasing productivity and job satisfaction, decreasing turnover and potentially saving money. Making sure that all of your employees benefit equally will maximize the impact of your policies and lead to a more positive atmosphere all around.

 


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