Magazine article Personnel

The Parent Perspective: Corporate Cooperation Eases Conflicts

Magazine article Personnel

The Parent Perspective: Corporate Cooperation Eases Conflicts

Article excerpt

National demographics and workforce trends clearly indicate that all employers eventually must address the issue of work and family conflict to recruit and retain talented workers. While all employees need supportive policies and benefits, the needs of working parents have emerged at the forefront of the work/family agenda.

More parents are working today than ever before. More than 60 percent of mothers work, and that figure is expected to increase to almost 80 percent by 2000. The resulting work/family conflict no longer is a "women's issue." Fathers increasingly want to voice their opinions on the issue. As more men choose to be active parents, they also experience the conflict between the demands of work and family, particularly if the corporate culture promotes the notion that an active father who protects his family time may jeopardize his career.

A growing number of working mothers and fathers are single, 9.7 million according to some recent statistics. Twenty-six percent of American children now live in single-parent homes, and their parents face non-stop pressure in their dual roles. Many of these families live at or near the poverty level, making financial considerations extremely important. Career development and education for single parents also are critical support factors. Blended families that result from divorce and remarriage present other unique challenges. Whatever their particular needs, all employees who work and raise children need the support of employers.

The key is flexibility

In organizational assessments our company has conducted across the country, parents ask for flexibility more than any other policy or program. Generally, 75 percent to 80 percent of employees report that flexibility in the workplace would lessen or eliminate the need for other employer assistance with family issues. Parents want their employers to accept the fact that their families are important and also deserve time and attention. Sometimes that time must be spent between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Our surveys found that employees do not want an excuse to get out of work; they want to work and have a quality personal and family life.

Flexible work alternatives can be a great asset to parents. Extendable lunch hours or combined lunch and break times offer a parent the chance to squeeze errands into the workday, freeing up their Saturday afternoon to take the kids to the community pool. Vacation or personal days, which can be taken in hours or half-days, make attendance possible at a Little League game or school play Flextime enables some parents to split drop-off or pick-up duties among other parents or have someone home to watch the children after school. …

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