What More can Companies do to Support Families?
The recent storm around the topic of egg freezing has left me feeling angry at the short-sighted 'solution' of fertility issues for corporate women. As the activist Eldridge Cleaver said, "if you're not part of the solution you are part of the problem." It's all very well me having hot air, but I have taken this view on board and decided to blog weekly about fertility, corporate wellbeing, work/life balance and other such issues.
Last week I gave some suggestions of what corporate women can do to help prepare themselves for motherhood (even before the time where they might think about starting a family) - if you missed it you can read it here;
This week I am looking at the corporate perspective. Whilst companies are not responsible for the families or future families of their employees, it is true to say that the more cared for a workforce the more engaged, productive and likely to stay they will be. This without a doubt affects profit and loss, which is where any company will understandably be focussed.
So how can companies best support their employees and their families? Here are seven ideas;
- Flexible working; beneficial for both mothers and fathers to manage the school run, avoid the most hectic commuter times, avoid fatigue from long commutes etc. Wireless internet and teleconferencing make this much more realistic, although there can still be a distrust of employees really working when left to their own devices.
- Healthy policies such as insisting on employees taking lunch breaks, providing nutritious food and work environments with fresh air, natural light and more space.
- Creating a healthier work culture- less social time in the pub, in-house yoga and mindfulness, genuine team-building.
- Coaching to support women through the transition to motherhood, so they can better balance their priorities and goals.
- Job sharing- with good communication, this can be an effective way for mothers to return to work sooner, without an overcommitment.
- Building creches within offices- a simple solution to allow parents to see their children during the day.
- Flexible maternity and paternity leave, to tie in with the support that the couple may already have.
- Loans with cheaper APR for school and university fees to help reduce the financial strain.
What other ways can companies support their employees' work/life balance? I welcome any examples of where it's been done well, and where things could be vastly improved.