Today, I’m sitting at home with my sick buddy, incredibly grateful to work for a boss and a company that gets the working parent shtick: kids get sick—and so do we. With all the telecommuting hullabaloo sweeping through the media today, ignited by the Yahoo! telework ban, I started thinking. Is there a list of working moms and dads’ must-haves to live a normal, guilt-free (or at least guilt-lite) work-life?
Here are five employer must-haves to keep working parents productive (and sane):
1. Flexible work.
I’m not saying telecommuting is a requirement for all employees with children, but having the ability to be flexible is the ideal for busy working parents. Thanks to modern technology, working remotely is as simple as connecting email on smartphone and offering VPN.
2. PTO, sick time and vacation.
At one of my previous employers, I had sick time and vacation—no in between. By October, I used all my sick time, thanks to these three little germ machines and got busted for having to use vacation last minute to cover my own illness time. And using vacation for sick time is a bummer.
By offering sick, personal and vacation time, working moms and dads have a little wiggle room: PTO for last-minute doctor’s appointments and parent-teacher conferences, sick time for actual sickness and vacation for real vacation time (remember what “vacation” means, moms and dads?).
3. Child care spending account.
Unless you have a fairy godmother (or the magical stay-at-home grandparent), working parents have kids in childcare. Businesses that offer flexible spending accounts for childcare give working parents the opportunity to have up to $3,000 per year taken out (pre-tax) of their paychecks every month. And because it’s pre-tax, the spending account saves working moms and dads big time when the tax man comes to call in April.
4. Kid-friendly philanthropy.
One of my 2013 resolutions is to get my kids involved in local social good projects to learn how to give back and help people in need. Employers who offer corporate-sponsored volunteer opportunities are on the right track, but great employers also provide kid-friendly volunteer opportunities so working parents can bring them to the activities. By enabling family volunteerism, the number of company volunteers rises because working parents don’t have to sacrifice sacred weekend family hours AND it’s a great teaching opportunity for the next generation.
5. Bring Your Child to Work programs.
My kids try to hard to understand what I do, but how do you explain “public relations” and “corporate strategy” to a 10-year-old? Great companies help parents teach their kids why we’re away five days a week and then checking email after dinner (shame on us!) through Bring Your Child to Work programs. These programs are fantastic for a ton of reasons: education, company loyalty, work-life balance, fun and parent-kid bonding. To be successful, however, companies must have more than just a sit-down-and-watch-mommy-work philosophy.
These five steps are a great start to helping employees achieve work-life balance and job satisfaction, alongside the business benefits of reduced attrition, heightened productivity and cost-savings. Ultimately, it’s all about building companies that value the human elements of their businesses and, for working parents, our little ones are the pride and joy of our lives. After all, they’re the ones we’re working so hard for.
What programs does your business have in place to benefit your working parent lifestyle? Onsite childcare? Telework? Share your tips with your fellow working moms and dads here.
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