Balancing work and family responsibilities has become increasingly difficult in the modern workplace, as advanced technology, economic concerns and societal pressures make it hard for people to keep job and home separate. October was designated as National Work and Family Month by the U.S. Senate in 2003. This month is a good time for HR professionals to reflect and consider innovation with programs to help reconcile work-life issues.
A project of SHRM called When Work Works (WWW) promotes the creation of effective and flexible workplaces; WWW’s annual awards recognize groundbreaking ideas and promising or successful practices. Flexible programs, or workflex, can include family leave, flex-time, compressed workweeks, telecommuting, employee-managed time, reduced hours, welcoming environments/worksites, coaching to assist parents’ transition back to work, and other solutions.
Workflex is vital to an effective workplace and yields positive outcomes for employers and employees. Employees report greater job engagement and satisfaction, increased desire to stay, lower stress and better overall health. While employers that implement effective workflex programs are more likely to attract and retain talent, build a thriving and energized workforce, and develop performance strategies.
Effective workplaces are not one-size-fits-all scenarios. Employer and employee needs are determined by a multitude of factors, including company size, type of business, operational hours and available resources. HR experts with the ability to think creatively will help their organizations stay ahead of the latest workplace trends.
The nearly 300 winners of the 2017 When Work Works Awards addressed work-life concerns with pioneering efforts tailored to their employees’ particular needs, and most included benefits that embraced a family-first approach to work. Some of their notable programs are highlighted below.
Notable Winners of the 2017 When Work Works Awards
- American College of Healthcare Sciences, Portland, Ore.; Boly:Welch, Portland, Ore.; DMLO CPAs, Louisville, Ky.; and The Frontier Project, Richmond, Va.: All provide family-friendly perks, such as playrooms, comfortable seating, group-dining-style kitchens, nap spaces, and a homework room stocked with books, art supplies, computers, and toys.
- Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Phoenix: Created an “Infant at Work” program allowing both mothers and fathers to bring their newborns to work.
- British Consulate General, Chicago: Offers mothers three full months of paid leave. Events during the organization’s “work-life balance week” highlight flexible working, stress management, training development, health and wellness.
- Fortune Title Agency, Inc., Roseland, N.J.: Offers maternity leave; new parents can adjust schedules and have the option to work remotely and/or gradually re-enter the workforce.
- The Hello Foundation, LLC, Portland, Ore.: Provides unlimited time off; most employees with young children work virtually. The firm attributes high retention rates to its family-friendly environment.
- Work Skills Corporation, Brighton, Mich.: Offers access to a success coach to help employees and families balance work-life issues.