Whether it be attracting the best talent, retaining your experienced hires or maximising productivity and wellbeing with a reduced workforce, a family-friendly workplace is proven to be impactful.
Today’s fast pace of demographic and social change, plus developments in technology, all impact the ways we work and also how we integrate careers with family life.
It’s therefore worth taking time regularly to review your offering to ensure it’s meeting the needs of your employees and remains competitive with your sector and best practice.
Step 1: Are your benefits policies clear and accessible?
As the old saying goes: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you’ve told them.”
If you’re providing excellent benefits, make sure everyone in your organisation knows it!
Of course, it is important to ensure your benefit policies are crystal clear and accessible, but one of the most important steps is to ensure your employees are aware of what is on offer, and where to find more information.
So, check that you’re using every opportunity to explain engagingly what’s on offer.
Consider webinars and drop-in advice sessions to support the information available on your intranet or benefits site.
Stories from people who’ve used the benefit are one of the most impactful ways to bring the offering to life.
Employee support group forums and affinity groups are often powerful ways to get meaningful information out to targeted groups.
Step 2: Are your line managers equipped to support their teams?
The relationship between line manager and employee is pivotal to the success of your benefits strategy for any individual.
This is particularly true in the parental leave experience where positive conversations, clear expectations and avoiding assumptions can make all the difference to return rates.
That’s why we offer our clients a range of coaching programmes and our digital coaching solution (the Parental Leave Toolkit).
The resource handholds the manager and the individual through the whole journey, driven by dates of leave, birth/adoption and return, serving up timely tips, videos, checklists and tools, just in time.
The feedback we receive shows this can be a real game-changer for organisations, managers and individuals.
Step 3: Are you there for the whole journey?
Successful return from parental leave – tick! But that’s not the end. In fact, it’s just the beginning.
It’s vital to support your employees through the early years of parenting, school days, and teenhood.
Research shows that parents are increasingly concerned about their children’s education and confidence. Our clients have found that offering access to one-to-one virtual tutoring for children and teens, as part of their family-friendly offer, can help address these concerns, so parents can focus on their own jobs and career journeys.
Easing the mental load of parents brings proven loyalty and engagement premiums.
There’s another certainty about parenthood – even the best laid arrangements will break down from time to time. That's why back up care is another essential, providing a safety net that minimises disruption, boosts employee confidence and promotes wellbeing.
Step 4: Inclusivity matters. Are you there for everyone?
Do you have a back up plan for everyone?
In addition to parents, we have become much more aware of our colleagues who care for adult dependants in recent years. It’s also important to recognise that family-friendly benefits extend beyond parents to include all caregivers, including those with four-legged loved ones.
An inclusive family-friendly benefits programme should be built to meet the diverse needs of various family structures.
The employers we work with have seen the addition of pet care as well as virtual tutoring for young people and, of course, our long-established adult and eldercare as key building blocks in their inclusion strategies.
Making this part of their back up care plan is a simple way of giving both a profound message and practical support.
Step 5: Are you doing enough to stay ahead in the competitive landscape?
Regularly evaluate and enhance your family-friendly offerings. What was once a ‘nice to have’ may now be a ‘need to have’ in the increasingly competitive race to be the employer of choice.
Keep tabs on industry benchmarks (see below), candidate feedback, and insights from departing employees.
Exit interviews can be very telling. They need to be taken seriously and conducted by people that the leaver can be honest with.
Audit results and next steps
How did you do? Whether you need additional tips or want to delve deeper into research findings, we’re here for you.
At Bright Horizons, we understand the evolving needs of families and the importance of a comprehensive family-friendly offering.
Let us work together to help you make your workplace truly inclusive, supportive, and a top choice for employees.
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Victoria Cottee, head of client relations, Bright Horizons