How Family-Friendly Policies (and Family-Friendly Meal Breaks) Can Impact Your Business

Posted by on Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 with Comments Off on How Family-Friendly Policies (and Family-Friendly Meal Breaks) Can Impact Your Business Comments

Between discussions of what it means to “lean in” or whether working women really can have it all, the cultural conversation about family-friendly workplaces has never been louder. Working parents, especially mothers, report an increasing struggle to balance the demands of the office with the time and energy required for raising children. Nearly 40% of working moms admit to feeling rushed every day. Given that employee happiness and satisfaction are key to a productive, stable staff, many companies have begun implementing family-friendly policies in the office to make life easier for the parents who work there.

tired working mom with baby

Working parents report increased stress.
Image source: flickr user Gilzee

Frequently cited as a top company to work for, North Carolina software firm SAS offers discounted on-site child care facilities and free work-life counseling, and their campus gymnasium is free to both employees and their families. Google, well-known for perks like its generous employee food program, recently expanded their maternity leave plans so that new moms receive five months of fully-paid time off.

Smaller companies are finding ways to promote a family-friendly workplace, even when they lack the resources to supply on-site day care or family fitness centers. Offering flexible scheduling is one way to help busy parents that won’t cost a dime: allowing employees to come in at 7 am and leave at 4 pm can help two working parents get the kids on and off the school bus each day. Be open to offering extended meal breaks so that parents can catch a mid-day recital or school event. And if possible, allow employees to telecommute and work from home a few days a week when necessary. This will relieve the stress of making last-minute arrangements for a school snow day or caretaking for a sick child.

baby at the office

Employee productivity may go up with a child-friendly policy.
Image source: flickr user Tex Batmart

And if it’s appropriate, make it clear that your employees can bring their kids to the office occasionally. The Austin-based advertising firm T3 founded their “T3 and Under” program when four of their 35 employees got pregnant during a massive project — they allowed the new mothers to bring their babies to work with them out of necessity, but found the program to be a fantastic way to boost employee morale, and made it permanent. While that’s a drastic solution, many offices can allow working parents to bring a child for the occasional afternoon after an appointment or when school lets out early, letting the employee make the most of what might otherwise be an entire half day’s worth of lost work.

If you do choose to allow parents to bring children to work, take a few extra steps to assure your staff that kids are welcome, not just tolerated. Include some healthy kid-friendly snacks like juice boxes, cereal, or fruit leathers in the break room if you have regular young visitors, or invite the child to participate in an office lunch and add a kid’s entree to the takeout order. Small touches like family-friendly meal breaks will go a long way towards helping create a positive, supportive environment for working parents, especially since meal time is such an important time for small children.

baby in the break room

Make the break room a family-friendly place, and keep kid-friendly foods on hand.
Image source: flickr user Nongbri Family Pix can help you plan for catered meals or office parties of all kinds — even when the kids are involved. Use our easy online food ordering or Virtual Cafeteria Service to ensure everyone in the workplace gets a wholesome lunch during everyday meal breaks or celebrations!

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