Creating a Family-Friendly Workplace

Posted in : HR Updates on 8 April 2024
Shannon Lennon
Think People Consulting
Issues covered: Family Friendly Rights, Flexible Working, Childcare

In today's competitive job market, attracting and retaining top talent requires more than just offering competitive salaries and benefits. Increasingly, employees are seeking workplaces that prioritise work-life balance and support their family commitments. Employers who embrace family-friendly practices not only foster a positive workplace culture but also reap the benefits of higher employee satisfaction, productivity and retention rates. This article explores practical strategies that employers can implement to create a family-friendly workplace.

Flexible Working Arrangements:

Flexible working is an important part of a modern, family-friendly workplace.Offering options such as home-working, flexitime, term-time working or compressed work weeks can empower working parents to better manage their work schedules around their family commitments.By providing flexibility, employers can demonstrate their commitment to accommodating the diverse needs of working parents, fostering a culture of trust and understanding within the workplace.While many organisations have flexible working policies in place, the experience of employees is very different because of the culture around flexibility. Creating a family-friendly culture means that flexible working needs to be fully embedded. This is where working flexibly is seen as normal practice and not as an exception to the norm.

Enhanced Family Friendly Leave and Pay:

Employers can provide support to working parents by offering leave and pay that is more than the statutory minimum. Many working parents cannot afford to avail of their statutory leave entitlements due to financial constraints. New research from Pregnant Then Screwed (2024) revealed that 70.6% of fathers only used part of their statutory paternity leave entitlement because they could not afford to stay off work any longer. By offering enhanced leave and pay, employers can demonstrate their commitment to supporting employees' family needs and alleviating the financial and emotional stress associated with taking time off for caregiving responsibilities. Employers should also consider implementing policies that support both mothers and fathers, promoting gender equality in caregiving responsibilities and fostering a more inclusive workplace culture.

Return-to-work Support:

Employers should strengthen internal support systems for new parents returning to work. This may involve internal guidance and mechanisms on how to support new parents, such as educating line managers or promoting policies and environments that facilitate breastfeeding. Additionally, employee networks can help bring together new parents and allow them to share their experiences and challenges, whilst buddying and mentoring schemes can provide additional support. Offering comprehensive return-to-work support ensures that new parents feel valued and empowered to successfully reintegrate into the workplace.

Childcare Support:

The cost of childcare can be a substantial financial burden for working parents and securing reliable childcare can also be a challenge. Research by Employers for Childcare (2023) found that childcare was the largest monthly outgoing for 41% of families and that 88% of parents have had to change their work arrangements due to the cost of childcare. There are many ways employers can help ease this burden such as ensuring eligible employees have access to childcare vouchers or by operating a workplace nursery. Additionally, employers can help by collating and disseminating useful information, factsheets, and resources or by signposting employees to available support such as an Employee Assistance Programme or Employers For Childcare’s Family Benefits Advice Service.

Supportive Organisational Culture:

Creating a supportive and inclusive work culture is essential for retaining and empowering working parents. Proactive and consistent communication is essential to ensure that employees are aware of their entitlements and to instill confidence that employees will not be penalised for taking leave or requesting to work flexibly.Managers can play a pivotal role and should receive training on how to support working parents and foster a supportive culture within their teams. It’s important to note that the supportiveness of an organisation is not necessarily always reflected in the number of policies available. An employer may have a variety of policies in place, however, an unsupportive culture can prevent employees from feeling comfortable utilising them.  

Equally, a smaller organisation may not be able to implement the full range of formal policies but can offer a culture of flexibility that employees value.  For example, this might include adopting a policy where meetings are only scheduled within core working hours, allowing ‘time off in lieu’ to facilitate personal commitments, or enabling annual leave days to be broken down into hours. By cultivating a supportive culture, employers can create an environment where working parents feel valued, respected, and empowered to succeed both personally and professionally.

In summary, there are many approaches that an employer can take to foster a family-friendly working culture in the workplace. While some organisations may have the capacity to provide a comprehensive suite of options and policies tailored to suit the diverse needs of their workforce, it's vital to recognise that what many employees truly desire is a supportive and understanding employer. 

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This article is correct at 08/04/2024

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Shannon Lennon
Think People Consulting

The main content of this article was provided by Shannon Lennon. Contact telephone number is 028 9031 0450 or email

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