Guide to

Family Forward Workplaces

Business Smart. Family Friendly. Future Ready.

Our goal is to build a community of employers who are inspired to support the health and well-being of our state’s current and future workforce. The Guide to Family Forward Workplaces details research-informed benefits that positively impact child health and well-being and provide a positive return on investment for employers.

In addition to information about each policy and its impact, we’ve provided sample policies, case studies from North Carolina employers, and concrete steps for how to get started when implementing new policies or enhancing existing ones.

How to Use the Guide

Throughout the guide, we’ve highlighted steps that businesses of all sizes and in all industries can take to make their organizations more family friendly. We’ve also incorporated data specific to employers of hourly and low-wage workers, who are less likely to have access to family-friendly benefits.

Not all policies within this guide are right for every employer; however, the variety of options provides something for everyone. We encourage human resource professionals, business owners, CEOs, and employees to use this guide as a reference to start or continue conversation and action within your organization. Perhaps that’s a survey of employees to determine what benefits they would value most. Perhaps it’s a review of existing policies to ensure they are based on best practice and research. Perhaps it’s a commitment to consider (or re-consider) a paid parental leave policy or a lactation room to support breastfeeding mothers. Whatever it is, we encourage you to take the next step toward becoming a Family Forward workplace.

Our Process

This guide was informed by research and feedback from more than 1,000 employers and employees across the state, along with an Advisory Council of North Carolina business leaders and experts in children’s health, human resources, and workforce development.

We collected data and feedback in five ways:

  • 1

    Newly commissioned research of employers and employees across our state.

    In November 2017, we commissioned research to uncover more than 300 North Carolina employers’ motivations behind the family-friendly practices they currently offer, the ones they want to offer and the barriers to offering them. We also surveyed more than 300 employees across the state about how they value family-friendly practices. Read the full report here.

  • 2

    Business roundtables in partnership with local chambers and Smart Start local partnerships.

    Through online surveys and a series of roundtable discussions, we listened to and learned from more than 200 employers of all sizes and industries, community leaders, and economic development professionals in six diverse markets across North Carolina—Greensboro and High Point, Wilmington, Asheville, Lumberton, Hickory, and Rocky Mount—to discuss best practices for family-friendly workplaces and to understand the opportunities they see and the challenges they face.

  • 3

    The Family Forward NC Advisory Council.

    The Family Forward NC Advisory Council is a group of prominent North Carolina business and community representatives and health experts who provided review and support of the guide and Family Forward NC.

  • 4

    Review of national research.

    We conducted an extensive review of national research, news reports, and resources from business associations, health and wellness organizations, health care associations, and early childhood advocates. See page 87 for our source list.

  • 5

    Guidance from subject matter experts.

    Throughout the process, we received guidance from our research advisor—Dr. Nina Smith, Assistant Professor of Human Sciences at NC Central University—and other subject matter experts to ensure the information we’ve included reflects best practice.