New Guide Aims to Increase Family Friendly Workplaces

Family Friendly Benefits Keep NC Businesses Competitive, Help Develop Future Workforce

A new guide for employers aims to create more family-friendly workplaces across North Carolina to help employers attract and retain talent and to improve health and well-being for children—the state’s future workforce.

The Guide to Family Forward Workplaces, released today by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) as part of Family Forward NC, provides tools for employers of all sizes with practical tips for selecting and implementing 16 family-friendly workplace practices such as flexible scheduling, accommodations for pregnant workers, and paid parental leave that have evidence to support positive business and child health outcomes. To help create the guide, NCECF worked with an advisory council of prominent business leaders, community leaders and health experts and gathered input from more than 1,000 employers throughout the state.

Half of North Carolina employers had difficulty hiring in 2018, up 10 percent from 2016, according to the NC Works Commission. A record-low 3.6 percent unemployment rate and an ongoing skills gap have created a tight labor market across the state, which means employers must work harder to attract and retain top talent, said NCECF Executive Director Tracy Zimmerman.

Research shows that children’s earliest years are so defining to their brain architecture that by the time children turns eight, their third-grade reading outcomes can predict future academic achievement and career success. Decades of research show that children need health and development on track from birth, supportive and supported families and communities, and high-quality birth-through-age eight learning environments with regular attendance to build strong brains.

In addition to the guide, NCECF will host a statewide Family Forward NC Summit for business leaders on April 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the RTI International campus to help employers evaluate and enhance their own workplace practices.

“Family friendly benefits are an essential business strategy in the competition for talent,” Zimmerman said. “And employer supports for parents and their children are an essential component to the overall health and well-being of North Carolina’s children—our state’s future workforce,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a win-win.”

Initiatives like Family Forward NC that support employer efforts are essential to improving the overall health and well-being of North Carolinians, said Dr. Betsey Tilson, state health director and chief medical officer for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

“To improve the health of North Carolina, we need to partner across sectors and in innovative ways,” Tilson said. “Supporting our business community as employers adopt policies that promote health, while increasing their competitiveness, is one of those innovative strategies.”

Business leaders have a responsibility to create environments where talent can thrive, said Fara Palumbo, chief people officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and a Family Forward NC Advisory Council member. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is the founding sponsor of Family Forward NC.

“This guide provides employers with information on the many options that exist to create an environment where everyone can have an opportunity to manage the delicate balance between work and life,” Palumbo said.

Media Contact: Emily Swartzlander, or