A while back in Happy, Healthy & Loved. Stop the Mommy Wars Part III, I mentioned that I’m taking a stronger interest in family friendly workplaces. Among other things, I’m trying to learn what family friendly businesses look like, what employees value most about them, what employees still feel they need, and how these steps actually positively affect a business’ bottom line. Two years ago, this may not have even been a topic on my radar.
Luckily, I have a fairly positive firsthand experience on what a family friendly business looks like. The company I work for offers many of the benefits I anticipate will appear on my “How to be a Family Friendly Business” list down the road. But, what I didn’t realize is how important these things would become to me, basically overnight. And now that I have, I feel they should be offered to all parents out there. Let’s not forget, we are raising a generation of people that will eventually infiltrate our businesses, become influencers and decision makers, and lead our companies. So, we should want to be the primary source that raises them, as well as set a strong tone and example for them. While I still have lots of reading, researching, and interviewing to do, what I do feel I can confidently talk about today is this: 5 Reasons a Family Friendly Business is Important to This Mom. I think this applies to a dad, too, but my perspective is that of a mom’s, so that’s what you’re going to get today.
1. I Don’t Have to Choose Between My Family & Work
When you have children, your world is turned upside down in the best way possible. You reevaluate your priorities, who you are, and who you want to become. I firmly believe the reason I was able to get a hold of my guilt about being a working mom is because my place of business doesn’t make me feel like I’m constantly or continually having to choose work over my family. By being part of a business culture that is supportive of parents, I can minimize the guilt when I do need to be away. Being part of an accepting culture also lets me know I can succeed as much as anyone else in our office even though I am a parent.
2. I Can Really Enjoy My Son
Life is short and while I enjoy what I do for a living, I intend to also enjoy my life. To me, this means everything from organized and planned vacations to changing my schedule around and spontaneously taking a day to spend with my son. It is also important to me to be home for dinner, some playtime, and bedtime most nights. These little moments have become especially important to me. They seem to be where I feel grounded, reconnected, and full. By working for a company that supports my life outside of work, I can be sure I really get to enjoy my family.
3. I Don’t Have to Financially Compromise Our Family in Order to Have a Family
Did you know that the United States is the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave? We also have one of the shortest maternity leaves of these same countries (read about both in this article). Every time I hear statistics like this, it blows my mind. Luckily, this wasn’t my experience. There are ways to offer employees subsidized income in addition to directly paying them for maternity leave. Our company offers several of these options and it significantly helped take the financial burden off our family during the 12 weeks I was home with N after he was born. Additionally, a flexible schedule, sick time and vacation leave allow me to have the time I need with our family without taking unpaid days.
4. I Still Have this Part of Me
For years before N came along, I had been working hard on my education and career. I’d be lying if I said in that time my career and professional drive didn’t start to become a part of me and influence many of my decisions. I had successes which made me work harder and desire more and I had failures that provided great lessons professionally and personally. I value all of these experiences and know I have so much more to learn. After N was born, I processed if I would be able to leave this sweet baby to go back to work in 12 weeks. I realized it would be excruciatingly hard but I couldn’t totally let go of the working side of me. It was clear N had totally tipped my priority scales, but I still wanted a career. It wasn’t until I went back to work that I realized just how family friendly the company I work for is. I am not sure how someone would manage being a full-time working parent without a supportive place of business.
5. I Can Be with My Sick Kid
Children get sick. It’s just part of the deal. When N is sick, I want to be home with him. I want to be the one comforting him and helping him get better. Thanks to an active husband and supportive family, I don’t always have to be. However, on the days when I know he needs me and I need to be there for him, I can easily take sick or vacation time or work from home.
Now, while all of these things are insanely important to me, I also understand that I am still accountable and responsible for my work. At the end of the day, I have to make sure I’ve met deadlines and expectations. I understand that the company I work for needs to make a profit in order to offer me these benefits. Because I’m offered these benefits, I have found that I am more loyal, driven, and ambitious. These family friendly business initiatives have started to become an employee retention and benefit tool for this mom.