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?