Guest Post by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans
I’m delighted to share a guest post from my friends Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan Evans. They are the co-authors of the bestseller Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay... the fifth edition of which is now available. Sharon and Bev address 26 strategies leaders can use to optimize engagement and retention. Being a wife and mom myself, ‘becoming more family friendly’ is one of my personal favorites.
People disengage or quit when rigid workplace rules cause unbearable family stress. Would they leave your organization over work/family conflicts? Yes. Employees are asking for a workplace that helps them balance the demands of their work and family lives, rather than forcing them to choose one over the other. Today and from now on, organizations that are not family-friendly will definitely have a harder time finding and keeping good people.
What Does Family Mean, and What Do They Want?
What do we mean by the word family? Some of you might immediately picture small children and two parents. Others picture a young newlywed couple, a single male caring for his aging father or the members of a large extended family. In the U.S., the Gen-X-er and his dog could be a family, while in Asia the pet seldom qualifies.
One family-friendly strategy won’t meet all of these employees’ individual needs. It’s critical to consider the different types of families in your group, and then think about (and talk about) the approaches that will work best for each of them. Remember, the most accurate way to get this information quickly is simply to ask your employees.
You have tremendous opportunities to get family-friendly within your own work group. What you do (and fail to do) as a manager can mean so much to your employees as they juggle work and family. And much of what you can do as a manager costs you and your organization little or nothing.
Think flexibly the next time an employee asks you for different work hours or time off to help a spouse, parent, or friend. Think about the real costs of saying yes. Will productivity suffer? Will you set a dangerous precedent?
It is more likely that your employees will applaud (maybe silently) your open-mindedness and willingness to help a valued employee in a time of need. Remember to set clear expectations for your employees’ results and hold them to those results. Then you will have room to flex when it matters.
Some managers mistakenly think that they should clearly separate themselves from their employees’ personal lives. You have much more to gain by showing your interest in their lives outside work.
We have heard about managers who became involved in several appropriate ways. As you read these approaches, think about which ones might work for you and your employees:
- Allowing employees’ children to come to work with them occasionally, usually to celebrate a special occasion or because of a special need
- Driving to an employee’s house to be with her and her family following a death in the family
- Accompanying employees to their children’s ball games and recitals
- Inviting an employee and his or her parents, relatives, or children to lunch
- Allowing well-behaved pets into the workplace
- Researching eldercare alternatives for an employee who needs help with aging parents
- Sending birthday cards or cakes to employees’ family members
- Setting up special e-mail and resource areas on the company intranet for employees’ children
- Locating resources (the company lawyer) for an employee struggling with the health insurance company
There are positive payoffs for your efforts to become more family-friendly, including increased loyalty, money saved, and the competitive edge that a loyal and productive workforce will provide.
Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans are the authors of Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay, the bestselling guide that provides twenty-six strategies to keep talented employees happy and productive. In addition to updating and revising all information for the fifth edition, the authors have included more international stories and statistics. Available January 2014 on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere! Beverly Kaye is the Founder of Career Systems International. Sharon Jordan-Evans is the President of the Jordan Evans Group.