How Can Small Businesses Really Offer Ways of Family-friendly Working and at What Cost?
Five ways small and medium enterprises can implement family-friendly working practices
One of the common concerns for small and medium businesses wishing to compete against larger businesses is their supposed inability to accommodate for family-friendly working conditions. It is commonly perceived that the typical small business has neither the massive budget to throw at agile workforces nor the resources to employ someone with “diversity” in their job title. This has resulted in many reaching the conclusion that “family friendly has no relevance for small and medium enterprises”, which is simply not true.
As individuals start to have children, they will have certain expectations; including more flexibility in their working conditions. Whilst this might mean that they have to spend more time at home and less time in the office, it does not have to impact their commitment and responsibility to the business. These kind of people are the backbone of thousands of businesses. They’re the easiest people to keep and motivate with a bit of support; they’re also the easiest to lose if your culture makes their lives too difficult.
There are, in fact, numerous advantages that small and medium enterprises have over larger businesses when it comes to implementing flexibility and family-friendly working practices. With a simpler workplace culture, the personality of the founder/owner/chief exec can shine through the entire business in ways that large employers can never replicate. The boss who understands that family and performance are not mutually exclusive will very easily create a culture that accepts flexibility as the natural order of things.
In addition, when working in a small business, an employer can be assured that, whilst working more flexibly, the parent or carer will continue to perform to a particular standard. In larger businesses, more flexibility can more easily be exploited and used as an excuse to work less.
These cost effective measures will ensure that small and medium enterprises are able to implement family-friendly working practices in the best possible way:
- Provide the opportunity for your member of staff to work from home. Technology now gives us the opportunity to work from a remote location, allowing members of staff to complete what they were working on in the office and remain contactable.
- As an employer, it is always important to look into schemes which will assist the working parents in your office. So, if one of your members of staff has a childcare breakdown but you need them in the office for that important pitch, thanks to having an emergency childcare provider in place, they will have a nanny to their door within two hours, meaning your employee will be at the meeting – and hopefully, winning you that business! Most forward thinking directors will be happy to pick up the costs for this if it means the business benefits in the long run.
- Lunch time seminars from an external work-life balance expert can also help build morale and show that you’re serious about introducing more family-friendly working practices. Make an effort to convince senior (preferably male) employees to attend and talk about the issues raised afterwards.
- If you have staff on maternity leave, make sure that there is a proper process in place where they can keep up-to-date with what’s going on. Many companies have ‘keeping in touch days’ which have worked very well and make the return to work almost painless.
- Attend and run events, such as family fun days. This is a great way for employees to get to know each other while
The is article was written by Ben Black, Director of My Family Care, which specialise in helping businesses ensure their employees have a healthy work/life balance.