Family-friendly initiatives for your small business

Jul 24, 2017 | Good Management

Aside from things like flexibility around working hours and family leave, which have a legal framework, what other initiatives could your business consider which would be family-friendly and supportive of those employees with caring responsibilities?

Here are just a few ideas:

Private medical insurance

Many businesses offer private medical insurance for staff, which is great, but it doesn’t necessarily cost more to offer that cover to the employee’s dependents as well. Employees really value the peace of mind that their spouse/children will benefit from shorter waiting times and the other benefits private healthcare can offer in those challenging times.

Employee assistance programmes

Employee assistance programmes don’t cost a lot, but the benefits can extend to the whole family, not just the employee themselves. Many offer legal advice/assistance with domestic issues as well as telephone counselling support.

Check out the different options available, consider the impact on the wider family, and when you’ve identified a suitable programme, make sure you publicise it well to staff, so they know exactly what support they and their families can access and how to do it.

Family events

Most businesses do at least one or two staff social events a year, perhaps at Christmas or during the summer. But consider whether perhaps at least one of these could be a family event. A barbecue in the summer to which family members are invited, and with child-friendly entertainment and activities could make a nice change and go a long way towards employee engagement and a happy workforce.

Grandparent leave

Grandparents don’t (yet) have the specific right to leave to take care of grandchildren, but more and more grandparents are heavily involved in supporting their families, including with childcare. Being flexible about time off or other help for grandparents supporting their extended families can make a big difference.

Time off for carers

Most people will have to care for a family member at some point in their lives, sometimes on a permanent/long-term basis, but sometimes it can be a short-term thing due to illness or end-of-life care. This is usually a stressful, difficult time, and if employees are also worried about losing their job if they need to support an elderly parent or relative, the challenging period they are going through is much harder to deal with.

Consider whether you are able to offer unpaid leave or temporary reduced hours, or additional flexibility, or even paid time off if all the employee needs to do is attend medical or other appointments with their relative from time-to-time.

Help with exceptional childcare costs

Obviously parents don’t expect their employers to fund their normal day-to-day childcare costs, but if you have employees working in the kinds of roles which sometimes involve exceptionally long days, trips away, or attendance at events on days they would not normally be working (and therefore not need childcare for), some assistance with costs incurred over and above normal childcare can facilitate parents being able to attend.

This will in turn help with retaining key talent in those roles rather than having them feel they have to leave a job incompatible with family life. It is particularly applicable with single parents who may not have family support nearby to take up the slack at the times their normal childcare is closed.

If you’d like some help putting family-friendly initiatives in place in your small business, do get in touch.