It’s an old movie but still with a powerful message. In the 1987 movie “Baby Boom,” Diane Keaton plays J.C., a successful powerful business woman with what seems to be the perfect life until she inherits a baby from a distant relative.
And at once, her life is thrown off balance as she tries to be 100 percent as both an executive and a mother. Eventually, she finds she has to choose between being an executive in New York City and leaving the city for a small town on a farm. Choosing life on the farm, she becomes bored and starts canning apples, creating Country Baby food. Despite some struggles, she shows she can be a mother and an executive, especially when she has the support of local women.
While it’s a great story, in many ways it is a fairy tale. For many working parents, it’s not that easy. The struggle to balance work and family life is ongoing. There are days when things go great and days when one thing at work or at home disrupts the entire schedule. And with only 24 hours in a day, it doesn’t seem enough to get everything done – unless you can hire a cook, nanny, gardener and housekeeper.
And even though it’s now 2015, many working parents still struggle with the balance of trying to be the best employee and the best parent. I know parents who are wary of calling in sick for work because their child is sick or asking for time off to attend their child’s school play or sporting event. With competition for jobs being fierce, no one wants to be seen as being a slacker.
As a business owner, it’s important for you to set and let working parents know if you are family friendly.
A couple questions to ask:
Do you want parents to come to work if their child has been sick or they have stayed up all night caring for their child? If the parent has been exposed to an illness like the flu and is sleep deprived, it might be better to ask the parent to stay home and rest. Why? By having them come to work, you risk getting other employees exposed to the illness. Also, the person may not be as productive as they would be if he had a day to rest.
What is your policy when there is bad weather that closes schools? Do you still expect parents and other employees to drive to work? Make sure all employees know ahead of time where you stand when schools and government offices are closed. Have a plan in place whether it is coming in late once the roads have been cleared or working from home.
Is it possible for your employees to work from home a few days a month or week? Too often we believe a person has to be at his or her desk from 8 to 5 to get a task done. Often, an employee can get more work done at home because there are less distractions such an employee chatting away about last night’s television show.
Have you shared what you expect from all your employees regarding sick leave? Family leave? Take the time to clearly communicate. If you are a small company, know some details of your employees’ family life such as if a parent is expecting a new child or if a parent may need time off to care for a sick relative.
I happen to believe the more you invest in your employees that the more they will be dedicated to your company. If an employee needs a day off during the normal work week, he may make up the hours on the weekend.
Being a family friendly business is a good investment for your company because it pays off by having dedicated employees.