The Family-Friendly Employment Agenda

June 01, 1994

As part of its commitment to its Families and Work key theme, the International Year of the Family gathered together a team of experts to develop a 36-point Family-Friendly Employment Agenda. It is a practical, step-by-step guide which shows how organisations can attract and retain a skilled and committed workforce by developing key existing policies, as well as developing new initiatives.

It is designed to reduce staff turnover and boost profits while enabling employees to build a more effective balance between their employment and family commitments.

All organisations are at a different stage of development – some tackle culture first, others develop policies or implement new working practices. Whatever the starting point, the Family Friendly Employment Agenda signposts the way forward, highlighting the main areas of action that will improve organisational effectiveness and support the needs of valuable employees. The Agenda is relevant to all organisations, large and small, whether in the public, private or voluntary sectors. Employees or managers can take the initiative, but it need joint effort to make family friendly employment practices work.

Implementation and Practices

1 recruitment and retention: develop and monitor all relevant procedures.

regularly review procedures such as selection criteria to ensure that the do not present barriers to those wanting to balance home and work responsibilities;

make it clear in your adverts that you offer flexible employment opportunities;

monitor the take-up of family friendly options.

2 Working arrangements: develop working patterns and practices which encourage family friendly employment.

offer flexible working practices;

allow reasonable access to telephones so that family members can contact each other where necessary.

3 Pay and benefits: offer flexible reward packages to meet individuals’ needs.

ensure that there is pro-rata entitlement to pay, pensions, etc

consider offering a “cafeteria” benefits system to enable employees to select the most appropriate mixture of benefits;

reward quality of output rather than hours worked.

4 Training, development and support: resource training and support relevant to family friendly employment throughout your organisation.

provide appropriate training and support for managers responsible for implementing family friendly policies, and for employees moving towards family friendly working arrangements;

check that practical arrangements for training are family friendly;

ensure that all employees, including those on flexible working arrangements, have development plans.

5 Information and consultation: consult widely on family friendly issues and provide clear, accessible information and advice.

use a family friendly committee to monitor progress and problems;

include regular family friendly news in the house magazine or newsletter, and set up lunchtime speaker meetings to address family friendly issues;

compile a library or database of helpful information including local childcare/elder facilities and useful addresses

Strategy, Policies and Publicity;

6 Policies: ensure that all organisational policies support and reflect family friendly practices.

ensure that your organisation’s mission statement and strategic plan reflect your commitment to family friendly employment options;

check that your management processes accommodate flexible working practices.

7 Role models: identify influential, visible role models.

nominate a senior “champion” to promote family friendly employment practices;

identify role models (men and women from all age groups) in key positions around your organisation to publicise the benefits of flexible working arrangements;

use mentors to encourage and support individuals moving towards family friendly employment.

8 Monitoring: review and report on progress against clearly defined standards and targets.

devise clear guidelines for managers on the range of family friendly employment options they can offer team members who which to balance home and work responsibilities;

monitor progress against targets;

set up a family friendly committee to assess and report back on the effectiveness of various initiatives.

9 Publicity: publicise good practice internally and externally.

use your annual report and in-house journal to show how and where progress is being made;

communicate the business benefits of developing family friendly initiatives, including lower recruitment costs, improved retention rates and lower absence rates;

publicise your initiatives through the local and national press.

10 Culture: work to change culture, attitudes and behaviour at all levels in your organisation.

break the culture of long working hours by requiring managers lead by example and consider offering the option of regular or occasional home working;

consult managers, employees, parents groups and carers groups on how to change attitudes to those balancing home and work responsibilities;

conduct regular surveys on employees’ needs and expectations.

11 Environment: ensure that the physical and social working environment is family friendly.

encourage employees to involve their families in workplace social functions such as fundraising events and parties;

ensure that refurbished or new buildings are safe for employees, visitors and children;

provide baby-changing and feeding facilities for visitors if your premises are open to the public.

12 Community: develop links with other organisations and community bodies.

work with community-based parents’ groups and other relevant local networks;

consult specialist groups in the field of family friendly employment;

support voluntary and specialist providers of services to families.

This information is taken from the Family Friendly Employment Agenda, which was drawn up by: Caring Costs; Carers’ National Association; Exploring Parenthood; The Industrial Society; the Institute of Personnel Management; Midland Bank plc; the National Institute of Social Work; New Ways to Work; Opportunity 2000; Parents at Work (formerly Working Mothers’ Association); the Prince of Wales Advisory Group on Disability; the Thomas Coram Research Unit and the Trades Union Congress. Copies of the Agenda are available from International Year of the Family UK, Yalding Housed, 152 Great Portland St, London W1N 6AJ, tel 071 637 2755

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 16 – June, 1994