Part 3: Balancing Act – How Your Company Can Support Working Parents and Caregivers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released data in September of 2021 that shows most American workers can tap into unpaid leave provided through the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
However, only one-quarter of workers have access to paid family leave.
Your employees work diligently to balance workplace duties with their roles as parents, partners, and at times, caregivers to older or disabled family members. Striking that balance, however, can be a real challenge. And if a member of your team is struggling in one area of their life, it can impact all other areas.
Understanding the multiple roles most workers juggle these days, it’s no surprise that your employees may look to you for support, including:
- Flexible scheduling that allows them to focus attention at home when needed
- Empathetic leadership that recognizes their contributions to the workplace
- Comprehensive employee benefits—including paid parental leave—that promotes a healthy work-life balance
Following are ways your company can help support working families and, in turn, bolster employee retention rates, engagement, and your company culture.
Family-Friendly Best Practices
Each day, working parents—and caregivers—face a variety of emotional, logistical, and sometimes financial challenges—from guilt about not spending enough time with children and struggles to find quality, affordable childcare or eldercare —to concern about neglecting their partners or their own health and wellness.
As an employer, your role is not to intervene in family matters, but you can adopt some best practices to help support working parents/caregivers.
These best practices include:
- Be flexible. Parents and non-parents value workplace flexibility, and it has become more commonplace since the COVID-19 pandemic normalized remote work. Consider adopting a hybrid workplace model that offers a scheduled blend of in-office and remote work or flexible scheduling.
- Offer child and family care assistance benefits. Quality, affordable childcare is one of the biggest challenges facing working parents today. Caregivers need options as well. Consider opening an onsite childcare program or center, a childcare or eldercare referral service, or on-ramping programs for parents or caregivers re-entering the workplace.
- Extend wellness benefits to the entire family. If you have a wellness program or initiative as part of your employee benefits package, open it to family members. Wellness programs encourage healthy lifestyle practices through companywide and personal health challenges and initiatives, health risk assessments, wellness educational tools, etc.
- Organize family-friendly employee events. Activities that allow employees to get together outside the office are a great way to boost employee engagement, but it can sometimes be difficult for working parents to attend. To make sure employees with children feel included, consider adding family-friendly events into your company’s events rotation.
- Offer paid parental leave. While eligible employees are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave under FMLA for the birth or adoption of a child, today’s working parents want more. Offering paid parental leave helps employers stand out as they compete for top talent and emerge as leaders within their industries.
- Create return-to-work programs for parents. Returning from parental leave—even paid leave—can be physically and emotionally taxing for new parents. A return-to-work program allows parents to start part-time and build to a full schedule, participate in support groups, and access resources like private and comfortable lactation rooms.
- Advocate inclusive and equitable family-friendly policies. Review your company policies to ensure they comply with federal, state, and local requirements and fairly and equitably support all families, including LGBTQIA+ families, parents adopting or using a surrogate, single parents, and non-native English speakers.
Create Your Company’s Paid Leave Program in 7 Steps
If your business is not required by state or local law to provide paid leave, you may consider voluntarily implementing a paid leave program tailored to your employees’ needs.
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM)’s “How to Develop and Administer Paid-Leave Programs” outlines these steps for creating a paid leave program:
Identify your company’s legal requirements to offer paid leave under state and local laws or as a federal contractor. Also, outline organizational objectives you hope to achieve by implementing a paid-leave program.
Identify the types of leave your company will provide employees—including sick and family/parental-leave benefits—and define eligibility requirements.
Identify how much leave to offer and how employees will earn leave benefits. For example, determine if employees will receive paid leave at the beginning of the calendar or anniversary year, at the start of employment, or if employees will accrue leave based on the number of hours worked or on length of service. Also, set a leave cap.
Establish when and how employees can take leave. For example, some employers offer paid leave in full-day or half-day increments, while others opt for smaller increments, such as quarter-hour or full-hour leave periods. Establish procedures for requesting leave and processes for approving or denying it. Make sure your paid-leave program works with your human resource technology programs and systems.
Identify when paid leave will be required, including sick leave for short-term illness or injury, family and medical leave for longer-term health-related matters, and parental leave.
Determine pay-out practices in states where paid leave must be distributed upon termination.
Create policies that outline rules and procedures for your company’s paid leave programs. Employees should sign an acknowledgment that they received the information and understand the policy. Educate employees on your policies and communicate information about them often and through various platforms. Survey your employees about what they feel is—and is not—working with your paid leave programs and ask them to provide ideas and suggested improvements.
Missed PART 2? Find it here.
How G&A Can Help
G&A Partners offers you access to a team of HR regulatory experts who can help ensure you remain in compliance with all federal and state regulations. For more information on how outsourcing your HR to G&A can help you reduce your risk and get time back to grow your business, schedule a consultation with one of our trusted business advisors.