Creating a family friendly culture in the workplace

How important are family friendly policies and benefits in organisational culture?

Is there a correlation between a high performing organisation and a family friendly workplace?

It seems obvious that the answer is yes…and yet, there are many organisations who put family friendly policies and benefits at the bottom of the pile.  Family friendly policies and benefits are known to increase retention, recruitment, morale and productivity.  Arguably, these policies and benefits come at a cost to the organisation, so do the benefits outweigh the costs?  It can be difficult to put a figure on this type of benefit and return on investment.

There is also the unseen or lesser known part of family friendly policies and benefits that organisations can adopt; these are related to family building options such as infertility treatment insurance coverage, adoption grants, sick leave (for miscarriage or medical treatments), flexible working and egg freezing.

Simply having these policies and benefits will certainly contribute to a family friendly culture…but there is something deeper than these – a family friendly organizational culture that builds on the policies nd benefits.

You may have heard the saying – “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. This simply means that no matter how good the policies are they need to be supported by the organisation’s culture.

Going beyond the policies and benefits, leaders and staff need to develop the values and behaviours that make up the family-friendly culture:

Open Communication – on both work/life needs and institutional priorities.  Staff need to be able to freely communicate to their leaders and vice versa without incrimination or judgement. The ability to give 360 degree feedback freely about what works and what doesn’t contributes to this open communication environment.

Flexibility – at all levels of the organisation.  Creating an environment that makes it OK to ask for flexible working or time off by creating space to.  Believing that employees are less loyal or productive for asking for these creates will creates negative culture.

Commitment – recognition that a good work/life culture benefits everyone.

Fairness – fair doesn’t mean equal; leaders need to understand that one size doesn’t fit all, applying family friendly policies consistently is important.

These values can’t be written down in policy or given away as a benefit…they have to be enacted out by the people we work with every day and inspired by our leaders in our day to day lives.

What other values and behaviours do you think make up a family friendly culture that we can live by in our workplaces, including family building?

Do your leaders say they are family friendly but don’t live by the values they preach?

5 thoughts on “Creating a family friendly culture in the workplace

  1. The EcoFeminist says:

    We have insurance through my husband’s employer, who will fork out the cash if you want a sex change, but wouldn’t dream of providing any type of infertility or adoption coverage. And they claim to be both family friendly and sustainable, while also not paying their employees a living wage. If anything were to happen to me or I couldn’t work, we could never pay the mortgage based on my husband’s hourly rate, which is one third of what he made in Australia before moving here to the States.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thegreatpuddingclubhunt says:

      A living wage is definitely the first thing a company can do to be family friendly 😡 or just being socially responsible full stop.

      Why is Infertility coverage such a battle? I’m sorry your insurance sucks, I wish everyone could have what I have with mine 😔

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My Perfect Breakdown says:

    This is an interesting post. What I can say about it, is that one of the main reasons I left my former employer and have now started working for myself is because of the complete and utter lack of being a family friendly company. They claimed to be an amazing family friendly company, said all the right things according to the laws, but when push came to shove, they were neither family friendly or really even that supportive of their staff in general. I will never forget the email that demanded me to be at a meeting regardless of the fact that I was in the hospital due to a miscarriage and scheduling a termination for medical reasons, my fourth, which at this time they knew all about. Honestly, as much as I would like to blame that company for being this way, I truly think this is actually just the way of my chosen industry as a whole and is just an example of a systemic issue in our workforce. Which would be why I no longer work that way, I just can’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thegreatpuddingclubhunt says:

      This makes me so sad 😢 some Companies simply don’t realise the culture the have created and hide behind ‘policies and benefits’ thinking they are doing well, patting themselves on the back. It isn’t until they look in the mirror and ask their employees how they are actually doing as an organization that the ugly spiders and cockroaches appear.

      Apparently it takes 7 years for an organizational culture to truly change when it tries to change (and only because it wants to change). So I wouldn’t be going back to your old company anytime soon…even if they did recognise it. Having the family friendly policies and benefits in place is one thing, but toxic leaders and managers can sadly ruin them. And what’s worse is that often you don’t find out about an organization’s true culture until you’ve accepted the job and you’re in the thick of it. 😡

      Liked by 1 person

  3. andthewindscreamsmary says:

    Well this is a loaded post and I have many thoughts! The company I am at now is arguably much better at work/life balance and family friendly policies than my previous company. They changed mostly because of the amount of baby boomer retirees and incoming Millenials – they had to change to attract the younger crowd.
    They offer adoption assistance (up to $10k) and just last year added surrogacy assistance to this (up to $10k.) Obviously doesn’t cover it all, but it’s a start. I guess they figure that is comparable to the cost of maternity services through insurance (company is self insured.) Last year they also increased the paid parental leave from two to four weeks, for birth/adoption covering mothers and fathers. Now that I have my own son and he is two weeks old, I realize four weeks isn’t a whole lot.
    As for flexible scheduling, while we do have a policy it seems as if it’s all politics and whether or not you are approved for a flex schedule or for working from home is based on how well liked you are, or on how easy going your boss is. This is my biggest pet peeve with my employer. I know many people who work from home one or two days, and others who are denied for various reasons or because their boss doesn’t “believe in working from home” despite the policy being in place! Obviously if it’s a concern about the quality of work or production, then that makes sense, but sometimes it seems so arbitrary. A lot of people in the company complain about that, across all departments and generations. I think the policy needs to be more straight forward and there should be a way to apply the standards across the board.
    I will say I am lucky in that my boss is generally very flexible, but others are not so lucky and it doesn’t seem fair at all! I haven’t decided whether or not I am going to request a modified schedule once I return in February, but I’m preparing to fight for it if I do. I don’t think it will be easy.


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