Family-Friendly Businesses

Many businesses today struggle to find talented, diverse, and committed employees.

Since the onset of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, many workers, disproportionately women, have been caught between the needs of their families, childcare and virtual schooling, and their careers.

Many women have been forced to leave their jobs, resulting in a dearth of talented and skilled females in the workforce, and a signifcant gap in the job applicant pool. Working families have a lot to juggle, but employers can help make that a little easier by implementing policies and programs that help Hampton Roads’ residents balance both family and work.

Our Family-Friendly Business Toolkit provides businesses with ideas, knowledge and resources to advance early childhood outcomes while supporting one of their most valualbe assets -- their employees.

Download the toolkit

Understanding your employee's needs

Two-thirds of employees would leave their job for another that ofered better work-life benefts. Team members are typically a business’s largest investment and by understanding and responding to their needs, companies can retain their employees.

Employers can fnd out more about the specifc needs of their employees in a variety of ways.

  • Survey your workforce on their work-family needs annually
  • Host a series of informal meetings or focus groups where working families can share their needs, challenges, and ideas
  • Educate employees on available benefts and establish connection to local resources
  • Include employees in discussions about the benefts offered and how these benefts might better serve them

Family-friendly practices and policies

There are a number of practices and policies that employers can consider, depending on the needs of your employees. Research indicates that family-friendly workplaces see benefts of increased productivity, company loyalty, and happier and healthy employees, resulting in employee retention and less employee absenteeism.

By ofering benefts that support physical and mental health, businesses can contribute to fnancial stability and well-being of employees and their families. Beneft oferings could include:

  • Health, Dental and Vision Insurance: Even if you already provide these benefts, consider adjustments that allow employees lower premiums, lower co-pays, or smaller deductibles. Employees may put of appointments or necessary care due to cost.
  • Short Term Disability Insurance: Provides fnancial help to employees who are temporarily out of work due to illness, injury, or pregnancy and helps to maintain fnancial stability for the employee and family.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): Provides employees with access to free and confdential assessments, short-term counseling, and referral to follow-up services for personal or work-related concerns, including stress, grief, family problems, substance abuse or other challenges.
  • Sick Leave, Personal Leave and Paid Time Of: Adjust leave policies to better meet the needs of working parents. Employees who are parents are challenged by caring for sick children, school closures, and other events like parent-teacher conferences, athletic events, or school activities.
  • Vacation Leave: Vacation time allows employees the time to recharge and rest, spend time with their family, and reduce stress. Employers who provide and encourage use of vacation time report increased productivity and reduction of turnover, and a decrease in workers’ compensation claims and health care costs.

Building a culture of fexibility is one strategy that employers fnd to be efective in employee retention and improving productivity.

A variety of time fexible options can be implemented so employees can more easily balance parenting and their work, while benefting the employer, too.

  • Flex time: Allowing employee to create their own work schedule can be helpful in allowing them to balance work tasks and family needs.
  • Telecommuting or remote work location: Allowing employee to work from their home or other remote location instead of the traditional ofce setting.
  • Job sharing/part-time work: Dividing job responsibilities into two part-time positions, allowing two employees to work together to fll one position.
  • Predictable scheduling: Establishing a reliable or set schedule will help employees to fnd consistent childcare. If a predictable schedule is not feasible, allowing early notifcation of schedules will allow employees time to accommodate childcare needs.
  • Parental involvement leave: Providing parental involvement leave can provide parents with an opportunity to attend children’s school events like plays, sports, or parent-teacher conferences easily.
  • Breastfeeding policies and supports: Provide private space and breaks for pumping and storing breast milk. Understand the federal laws that may be applicable to your business that allows for break time for nursing mothers.

Boosting the bottom line for families

Salaries are important, but so are other benefts you can ofer to your employees to ensure they are keeping the most money in their pockets. There are several ways that you can help employees boost their bottom line. Using tax-advantaged strategies helps employees maximize their dollars.

  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA): Creating a Flexible Spending Account option allows parents to use pre-tax dollars to reimburse themselves for certain out-of-pocket childcare with dollars saved pre-tax.
  • Tax and Childcare Subsidy Eligibility: Educate employees about their tax credit and childcare subsidy eligibility, connecting them with resources for maximizing these benefts. Learn more about childcare subsidies on the Virginia Department of Education's website.
  • Contribute to or subsidize childcare: Employers can contribute funds toward each employee’s childcare needs without the subsidy being added to their taxable income or the employer having to pay payroll taxes because it is not income.
  • Tax Credits: Consult a tax professional to provide specifc guidance on these tax-related strategies and the implications for your organization. Tax credits may be available to your based on the benefts you ofer.

Help employees access childcare

New parents have a lot of things to think about and many don’t realize looking for childcare needs to start very early, often as soon as they fnd out they are pregnant!

The waiting lists for infant and toddler care are very long and it can take months to secure a space. Further, knowing what to look for when visiting childcare centers can be confusing. Helping parents access childcare that meets their needs can make for more productive employees.

Provide parents with information on how to secure childcare by sharing the following:

  • Childcare Aware of Virginia provides comprehensive, up-to-date information about childcare in Virginia at www.vachildcare.com including:
    • Resource and Referral on options located near you
    • What to look for in childcare
    • Types of childcare
    • Questions to ask when exploring childcare options
    • Financial assistance -Family resources
  • 1-866- KIDSTLC Ext. 2 provides person-to-person information
  • Low-cost or no-cost to family childcare options may be available based on family income and other factors.
    • Local information can be found at www.ReadySetRegisterHR.org
      • Early Head Start/Head Start (8 weeks to age 5)
      • Virginia Preschool Initiative (4-year olds)
      • Hampton Roads Mixed Delivery Collaborative (3 and 4-year olds)