We Need to Reimagine a More Family-Friendly Workplace

I started five businesses from scratch, and I can tell you the quality of talent that I was able to recruit early on made all the difference in whether I succeeded or stumbled.

What I’ve learned over the years is that recruiting the best and brightest isn’t just about cushy office furniture or amenities like free coffee, a stocked fridge or a downstairs gym. Today’s talent are seeking employers who offer a education fund or even a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) account to help pay for support services.

I see a small number of big businesses, such as and , incorporating child care into their list of employee perks. But, smaller businesses can also up their perks game by offering child care as a benefit. This creates a where parents feel supported and encouraged to advance in their careers.

Lifting the constant financial and emotional burden of working parents will no doubt raise the bar on the caliber of employees you attract and retain.

Family benefits not only foster loyalty, but these pro-family policies can also be profitable by boosting productivity.  The availability of paid child care plays a key role in allowing parents with children to remain in the labor force.  In each year from 2016 to 2018, more than 2 million parents of children age 5 and younger had to quit a job, not take a job, or change their job because of child care challenges — disproportionately affecting women. American businesses, meanwhile, lose an estimated $12.7 billion annually because of their employees’ child care challenges. Nationally, the cost of lost earnings, productivity, and revenue due to the child care crisis is estimated at $57 billion annually.

Lack of child care is also one of the primary factors that prevent us from creating an equitable workforce and eliminating the wage and gender gap. Just take a look at the millions of mothers who have lost or left their jobs due to child care burdens caused by the pandemic.

Since March 2020, Black and Latina moms have stopped working, either voluntarily or due to layoffs, at higher rates than white moms. Many are single moms who need child care but haven’t been able to access it during the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, single moms had higher rates of than their childless counterparts in the second and third quarters of 2020.

Experts forecast that loss of skills, tenure and income among women of color will shape the future U.S. . One reason is that insufficient child care could impact their ability to re-enter the workforce, their wages, their long-term economic outcomes and the overall economic recovery.

Like many single mom of color, I also struggled with chasing the “American Dream” due to child care challenges. In fact, my success as a C-level executive was slowed due to lack of adequate child care for my son. In 2004, for example, I was passed for a vice president of sales position because I couldn’t make it to work at the required 6:30 a.m. time due to lack of before-school care for my son. I struggled throughout much of my career with this challenge, especially being in technology, a primarily male-dominted industry.

Related: 4 Ways Your Company Can Radically Help Working Mothers

In an era where women are projected to make up 60% of the workforce in the next five years, employers can leverage existing technology to provide fully managed child care benefits, giving their workforce the flexibility and family support needed to gain employee productivity and increase ROI.

As entrepreneurs and company leaders, we can do better. We have the power to completely change the course of child care in the US while dramatically transforming our company cultures by redesigning the workplace to be more family friendly. This is the future of work.

By: Alessandra Lezama / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Source: We Need to Reimagine a More Family-Friendly Workplace

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Critics:

Work–family balance in the United States refers to the specific issues that arise when men and women in the United States attempt to balance their occupational lives with their family lives. This differs from work–life balance in the United States: while work–life balance may refer to the health and living issues that arise from work, work–family balance refers specifically to how work and families intersect and influence each other. Work–family balance in the U.S. differs significantly for families of different social class.

Middle-class family issues center on dual-earner spouses and parents while lower class issues center on problems that arise due to single parenting. Work–family balance issues also differ by class, since middle class occupations provide more benefits and family support while low-wage jobs are less flexible with benefits. Solutions for helping individuals manage work–family balance in the U.S. include legislation, workplace policies, and the marketization of care work.

References

Dillaway, Heather and Elizabeth Pare. 2008. “Locating Mothers How Cultural Debates About Stay-at-Home Versus Working Mothers Define Women and Home.” Journal of Family Issues 29(4): 437-464.

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