Family-Friendly Companies

 

mother holding her baby and working on her laptopMany companies have been forced to think creatively on how to accommodate the needs of their employees in order to keep families functioning and workers happy. This is vastly due to the greater numbers of households who have both partners working or have a single parent that is the sole provider. Fortune recently evaluated and rated the top one hundred best companies to work for. Below is a list of their findings on the top ten big business companies and some of their provided benefits.

#5 – Wegman’s Food Markets – Headquarters in Rochester, NY

At this popular east coast grocery chain employees reward each other with gift cards for good service. Wegman’s also engages in job sharing between employees, compressed workweek scheduling and telecommuting in order to provide a flexible work environment that emphasizes family importance. Wegman’s is also one of the few companies that offer benefits to domestic partners demonstrating their progressive beliefs of how a family unit is viewed.

#4 – The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) – Headquarters in Boston, MA

This global management consulting firm offers its newly hired employees the option of a six month delayed start date and $10,000 to volunteer at a nonprofit organization before they even step foot through their doors to report for work.  BCG also pays 100% of all employees’ healthcare premiums. They maintain work-life balance by issuing a “red zone report” to flag when employees are working too many long weeks as a friendly reminder.

# 3 – CHG Healthcare Services- Headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT

CHG does more than just provide healthcare staffing to companies and hospitals in need. They work hard to take care of their employees with perks such as two on-site health centers, extra paid time off to sales teams that meet goals, talent shows, trivia contests, breakfast catering, and cash gift awards. CHG also turns their back on traditional nepotism policies by offering unlimited referral bonuses in the amount of $350 to all employees who recruit friends and family members to work there.

#2 – SAS (Business Analytics Software) – Headquarters in Cary, NC

The leading producer of business analytics software in the United States goes outside the box on the traditional business model with regards to how it treats its employees. SAS tries to address many of the needs an employee may have with a “One Stop” work environment. They offer an on-site healthcare/recreation/fitness facility as well as a fully inclusive childcare facility; both of which provide meals and snacks from their own organic farm. Employees enjoy alternative, nontraditional work benefits with domestic partner benefits, adoption assistance, and children’s summer camp programs. In addition, SAS offers their employees scholarships for continuing education, vendor discounts, and group-rates on auto, home, renter, as well as long-term care and supplemental insurance.

#1 – Google, Inc. – Headquarters in Mountain View, CA

While other companies try hard to match the amenities Google provides for its employees, many seem to pale in comparison to the total package of extras Google employees have at their fingertips. Google is often compared to a virtual city within its campus with on-site medical and dental facilities, valet parking, oil change facilities, and bike repair services. Employees also have the luxury of the use of free washers and dryers, and never have to worry about missing a meal as they offer free breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Google backs up its belief in training and education by offering all employees a 5 year leave-of-absence and $150,000 education reimbursement. The importance of quality of life is stressed through Google’s unlimited sick leave plan, $500 meal take out fund for new parents, subsidized massages, and three on-site wellness centers with a  seven-acre sports complex (which includes a roller hockey rink, basketball, bocce, and shuffle ball courts, and horseshoe pits).

Although these top five companies provide benefits and services that surpass anything a traditional small to mid size-company might be able to offer, there are several reoccurring themes that continue to resonate with all basic family-friendly companies no matter what their size. Employees continue to voice their appreciation for companies who strive to provide flexibility and understanding in their work environment when it comes to family issues, commitments and obligations. Those companies that “practice what they preach” with flexible work schedules, four-day work weeks, job-sharing, and comp time programs repeatedly get high marks and thumbs up from their employees.

Many companies are also breaking the mold of what a traditional office setting must look like by allowing employees to work from home or telecommute. As full-time employees find their families growing and changing they often are given an opportunity to switch to part-time work. These considerations are now not only being extended and offered to women, but a growing number of men are also using the flexibility and options of their family-friendly work place to allow them the chance to be an equal contributing parent also. A major transition in thinking is obvious with companies who now offer both maternity and paternity leave (parental leave) for employees during periods of new births, adoptions, or introduction of foster care children into the home.

The efforts these companies are making to provide a better family-friendly work life appear to be paying off. According to a study done by Stanford University, overall employees’ happiness was tied to work-life balance. Data showed that company turnover and sickness rates were significantly less in companies who foster this type of work environment and benefit programs.  Investors of the business world are responding as well. In 2013, more stakeholders desired to invest in companies that cultivate these traits within their employees thus making the companies a more highly sought out investment.

Not all companies can offer the bells and whistles that Google, SAS, and CHG have the luxury of offering their workers. However, data and employee out-cry says that whatever benefits or flexible working arrangements companies may be able to put in place will impact their employees dramatically. It is obvious that all of them have one common characteristic; these companies believe that treating people well is necessary for employee retention and productivity. A positive corporate culture that creates the right opportunities and creates open channels of communication appears to create positive production from employees. A major piece to this puzzle involves the understanding of employees’ trials and tribulations beyond the regular work environment.

Remarkable thinking? Possibly not. We don’t need a study to tell us that a happy worker is a much more efficient and productive worker. Balance is the key to life. Good life balance reduces stress and anxiety which plays a crucial role in individual well-being and health. This flexibility fosters security. Employees often get to feel empowered on all aspects of their life instead of believing that one of the juggling balls must drop at all times in order to be effective in one or more areas of their life.

There are several ways an individual can investigate on their own to determine whether or not a company is considered family-friendly:

1.     Is there any formal philosophy? Do any of their company reports, forms, brochures, materials or web site items show signs and support of parents who work?

2.     Does the company provide childcare options? Do they participate in a flexible spending program that allows employees to put pre-tax dollars away to pay childcare expenses?

3.     Does the company provide a means for alternative work arrangements and flextime programs?

4.     Is structured work-life balance training offered to employees?

5.     Are there clear family-friendly benefits outlined in the company’s policies and procedures?

There is no magic formula or rocket science to providing employees with policies, procedures and benefits that are family-friendly. It’s all about treating people with respect, supporting their life-balance, understanding family priorities and creating a positive relationship between the employee and the company. Thankfully, this does not take billions of dollars to accomplish…simple effort and a true understanding for the human beings working for your company can make the difference between a good company and a great one.

 

Sources:

Bloom, Nicholas. “Determinants and Consequences of Family-Friendly Workplace.” Stanford University. June 2011. www.stanford.edu/~nbloom/FFWP.pdf

Chatterjee, Surojit. “Top 5 Reasons Why Google is the Best Company to Work For.” International Business Times, January 20, 2012. http://www.ibtimes.com/top-5-reasons-why-google-best-company-work-553844.

Lerman, Robert I., and Stephanie R. Schmidt. “An Overview of Economic, Social and Demographic Trends Affecting the US Labor Market.” United States Department of Labor, June 15, 2012. http://www.dol.gov/dol/aboutdol/history/herman/reports/futurework/conference/trends/TrendsII.htm.