Are you interested in expanding your family-friendly benefits but unsure of how to get started? Below are practical steps you can take.
Know the law.
The first step is to understand federal and state laws that apply to pregnant workers or workers with caregiving responsibilities. See Understanding the Law for a brief overview and links to more resources. Consult with your legal advisors to ensure compliance with federal and state obligations.
Assess your current benefits and consider best practices.
Check your current policies to make sure they are relevant and competitive.
- Consider the research outlined throughout this guide on practices that offer the best business and health outcomes and determine whether your current benefits meet those guidelines.
- Research “best in class” lists such as the Working Mother magazine “100 Best Companies” or the Triangle, Charlotte and Triad Business Journals’ annual “Healthiest Employers” and “Best Places to Work” to see what benefits those workplaces offer.
Determine who your employees are and what they want.
Family-friendly workplace policies are not “one size fits all.” Take stock of your employees’ needs and tailor your policies to fit what works best for you and them.
- Consider employee demographics—both for current employees and employees you want to hire.
- Conduct a survey of employees to determine which benefits they would most value. Make the survey anonymous to respect employees who may be pregnant or considering pregnancy and don’t yet want to tell their manager.
- Create a committee or review panel of employees and ask them for feedback on potential policy changes.
Consult online and organizational resources for help.
The following online and organizational resources offer help for determining what benefits to offer and how to implement them:
- Membership associations such as the Society for Human Resource Management and Capital Associated Industries offer a variety of articles and resources, including articles and sample policies that can help craft a family-friendly workplace strategy. Both have membership fees. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has a North Carolina chapter, which in turn includes local chapters, that offers more local resources, workshops and gatherings.
- The North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition, MomsRising and the NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health created a resource for offering a breastfeeding-friendly workplace.
- Pregnant at Work was created by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of Law. The website includes free webinars for employers, model policies, and accommodation ideas for common pregnancy complications.
- The Job Accommodation Network provides information on pregnancy accommodations.
Consider all costs, including the cost of doing nothing.
For many family-friendly policies, particularly paid leave, cost is cited as the top concern for employers. When factoring costs, consider:
- Some policies, such as accommodations for pregnant workers or babies at work, have no or very little associated costs.
- In North Carolina, 73 percent of workers say they would be more committed to their employer if their employer offered more family-friendly policies.
- For policies such as paid parental leave, the benefits have been shown to outweigh the costs for businesses of all sizes.
- A 2017 Boston Consulting Group study of 250 employers with paid leave policies found that paid parental leave helped or had no effect on the bottom line, Companies studied reported a positive return on investment, particularly related to other benefits they could provide.1
- A 2016 Ernst and Young survey of more than 1,500 employers with paid leave benefits, including parental and family medical leave, showed that employers of all sizes saw positive business outcomes as a result:2
- 82 percent reported better employee morale;
- 71 percent reported lower employee turnover;
- 63 percent reported increased profitability (including nearly half of employers with 100 employees or fewer);
- 71 percent reported improved productivity.
- Fifty percent of US fathers and 75 percent of US mothers have turned down work opportunities, changed jobs or quit altogether to care for their children.3
- The cost of replacing an employee who leaves is approximately 33 percent of an employee’s salary, or $15,000 for a worker who makes $45,000, according to The Work Institute’s 2018 Retention Report.4
Below are three different cost calculators that can help employers estimate the costs of providing new benefits.
This calculator shows how much an employee currently costs an employer beyond wages, including taxes and current benefits offered.
Humana has two calculators. The first calculator gives your employees an overview of baseline monthly expenses, and the second calculator helps employers understand what benefits will cost for health, vision, and dental.
This calculator gives an employer a true cost for an employee and provides an overview of labor costs, payroll taxes and overhead.
Make sure employees understand what your policies are and how to use them.
Many times, employees are not fully aware of all the family-friendly policies that they have access to. Help educate employees by:
- Offering thorough and frequent tutorials or sessions that inform employees about ways to facilitate work-life balance.
- Creating HR manuals that are free of jargon. Spell out policies in layman’s terms to encourage increased knowledge and use of current family-friendly policies.
- Writing down policies that aren’t currently written. Doing so will clear up confusion, and it will help with any employee misconceptions that policies aren’t available or are subject to change based on individual manager preferences.
- Providing educational resources to help employees determine how benefits can help them financially.
Create a family-friendly workplace culture.
Having family-friendly policies in place only goes so far if your workplace culture does not encourage employees to use those policies. To create a family-friendly workplace culture:
- Make sure leaders understand the value of family-friendly policies and communicating your commitment to being family friendly to employees at all levels.
- Celebrate your family-friendly policies both internally and externally. At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, for instance, the company awards two parents each year—one mother and one father—as the “Working Mother and Father of the Year.” Workplaces can also connect with national efforts to raise awareness such as the Moms Rising #IPumpedHere campaign to encourage use of lactation facilities.
- Set clear expectations for managers and ensuring that leaders throughout your organization:
- Understand how family-friendly policies fit into your organizational mission.
- Offer support and respect for employees who take advantage of workplace policies. If a new father asks to take paternity leave, his manager should support that decision without giving the employee a tough time about being out of office. If an employee works a flexible schedule and does not come into work until 9 am, a manager should not routinely set meetings at 8 am and expect the employee to attend.
- Model behavior by taking advantage of family-friendly policies when they need them.
- Sample Employee Survey
- Current Policy Assessment Worksheet
- Sample Policies
Sick and Safe Leave
Family and Medical Leave
Parental Involvement Leave
Working from Home/Telecommuting
Job Sharing/Part-Time Work
Health and Wellness Benefits
Flexible Spending Account
Emergency or Backup Child Care
On Site Child Care
Subsidized or Reimbursed Child Care
Pregnant Worker Accommodations
Babies at Work
Support for Breastfeeding Mothers
- Bird, Liz; Gabrielle Fitzgerald; Shalini Unnikrishnan; Trish Stoman; and Wendy Woods. “Why Paid Family Leave is Good Business.” Boston Consulting Group. February 7, 2017. https://www.bcg.com/en-us/publications/2017/human-resources- people-organization-why-paid-family-leave-is-good-business.aspx ↵
- Ernst and Young. “Viewpoints on paid family and medical leave.” March 2017. https://www.ey.com/Publication/ vwLUAssets/EY-viewpoints-on-paid-family-and-medical-leave/$FILE/EY-viewpoints-on-paid-family-and-medical-leave. pdf ↵
- Craighill, Peyton and Danielle Paquette. “The surprising number of parents scaling back at work to care for kids.” The Washington Post. August 6, 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-surprising-number-of-moms- and-dads-scaling-back-at-work-to-care-for-their-kids/2015/08/06/c7134c50-3ab7-11e5-b3ac-8a79bc44e5e2_story. html?utm_term=.bd7035932210. ↵
- The Work Institute. “2018 Retention Report.” https://workinstitute.com/about-us/news-events/articleid/2259/2018%20 retention%20report ↵