The business benefits of being family-friendly

Lynda McAlary-Smith knows the benefits of flexible working arrangements.With family the number one life priority for so many employees, providing a family-friendly workplace is an important way for employers to ensure they keep staff happy and motivated.
Nanjing Night Net

Providing flexible working options suited to employees with young children or caring responsibilities can help employers retain skilled and valued staff members, decrease absenteeism and reduce staff turnover and increase the number of people who return to work after parental leave.

By being flexible to the needs of employees, employers can also improve staff morale, engagement and productivity by demonstrating to staff that they are valued.

The best way for employers to understand how they can help their staff achieve a balance between their work and personal commitments is to speak directly to them about what their needs are.

Employers need to let staff know they are prepared to work with them to find a solution that suits the employee, as well as the needs of the business.Both sets of needs must be given consideration for the situation to work.

The development and implementation of carefully considered policies is also an important part of building a family-friendly culture in any workplace.These policies include organising meetings when most people can attend, allowing employees toaccess their annual leave in single or part-day periods, organising professional development or training during ordinary work hours and creating meaningful part-time work opportunities and job share arrangements.

These opportunities should be promoted to all staff and also highlighted in job advertisements. The fact that your workplace is open to flexible working arrangements should be celebrated – and it’s certainly a way to attract top quality staff.

Developing flexible working arrangements for staff is also a way to be recognised as an employer of choice. To gain these benefits – such as attracting quality staff and retaining them – employers should ensure that their employees and potential employees  are informed of the family-friendly policies that are in place at the recruitment and induction phases.

Communication is king. Documentation, such as writing down the policies and distributing them to staff, is also crucial because it ensures that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and entitlements.

Employers striving to create a family-friendly workplace should take the following check-list into account:Is the concept of a work/life balance positively received and understood by managers and employees? Is it acknowledged in the workplace that employees have important roles and responsibilities outside the workplace? Are there consultative processes in place that enable staff to talk about their needs and the needs of the business? Are employees aware of what family-friendly entitlements exist in the workplace?Are the existing family-­friendly policies being reviewed regularity?

More information about how to create a family-friendly workplace can be found in the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Work & Family Best Practice Guide, which is available for free download at

Lynda McAlary-Smith is an executive director with the Fair Work Ombudsman. Lynda’s role is to lead the agency in its education focus and reaching its goal of creating fairer Australian workplaces.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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