I ran across an article in Workforce magazine recently titled, “How to Create a Single-Friendly Culture”. It’s a good read so you might want to check it out. The big takeaway for me was that organizations need to realize that employees have lives outside of work. They have people and things that are important to them. Employees want to know that the company will be supportive of those things that employees hold dear.
Please note: I didn’t say family. I’m not anti-family. I believe family-friendly policies are terrific. But everyone defines family a little differently. My guess is, if you asked ten employees, the people they would talk about are all a little different. It’s time for organizations to recognize that. Organizations should not tell employees who is part of their “family”.
- If an employee calls to say their aunt passed away, no organization should say, “I’m sorry. Your aunt isn’t considered family under our bereavement policy.”
- If organizations allow parents to leave work early to attend their child’s graduation, then an employee who wants to leave early because a close friend is graduating from college should be allowed the same.
- If someone who is married (or a parent) can say they’re not able to travel or work nights or weekends, then single employees should be given the same consideration.
An employee’s marital or parenting status should not be driving employment decisions. (NOTE: In some situations, using marital or parenting status can be illegal. Check with your friendly employment attorney for details. That’s not the focus of today’s post.) Company policies that mention family should be written to be more inclusive. Employees should not be treated differently based on their definition of family. Organizations have an opportunity to revisit their workplace policies and make them more inclusive. And I believe candidates and employees are looking for companies to do this.
Redefine “family”. Have an internal discussion about not only being a family-friendly workplace but what family should mean for your organizational culture.
Revisit policies. Do an audit of internal policies and procedures to make sure that they align with the company’s open definition of family.
Reiterate your support. Let employees know that the company supports them. And wants them to enjoy time with their family, whoever that might be.
As companies spend more focused energy and resources toward developing family-friendly policies, it’s important how family is defined. Mom, dad, and 2.5 kids isn’t an acceptable definition anymore. Honestly, it’s probably never been an acceptable definition. Let employees help with this. They already help to define and sustain the company’s culture. They can do this too.
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