When preparing to go to your employer to make your job harmonize better with your situation as a parent, keep in mind that any changes will be more attractive if you can demonstrate that the new policy will benefit the company. And preparation here is key.
First, know what policies are already in place. Talk to human resources or get a copy of the policy manual to study. It is also smart thinking to have an idea of how many other employees might find policy changes advantageous. Anything from better health coverage for dependents to flexible workweeks could potentially help other parents, both male and female. If half the workforce in even a small business consists of young parents, for instance, then you can appeal for appropriate health insurance with that group in mind.
Second, arm yourself with comprehensive options. Put pencil, or computer, to paper and detail the possibilities. If you are advocating for flexible scheduling alternatives, then explain what that might mean. The following list will help:
- compressed workweeks in which full-time hours are spread over fewer than five full days;
- flextime in which the beginning and end of workdays do not necessarily correspond to traditional hours as long as important business hours are covered;
- job sharing when two people split a full-time position;
- telework in which at least some of the tasks are performed off-site, often at home;
- part-time alternatives allowing fewer hours and prorated pay and benefits;
- and for full-time staff, returning part-time before resuming a full-time schedule.
Be specific about what might work in your employment situation. One website, World at Work, suggests the several components that an employer might want to consider for a flexible scheduling policy. They include purpose, eligibility, actual scheduling, equipment and supplies, impact on compensation, and benefits, among others. Try to see the possibilities through your employer’s eyes. At the same time, keep in mind that avoiding any negative spillover from job to family life is also good for the company. Another good resource for developing your case is Quintessential Careers; in the article “Making Your Case for Telecommuting: How to Convince the Boss,” the authors go through a step-by-step process to build your case.
Third, know the current literature that will support your requests. For instance, an article from the Stanford Graduate School of Business claims that working from home increases both productivity and employee morale. Basing their conclusions on a 10-month study done at a billion-dollar NASDAQ listed company in China,researchers also suggested that flexible work choices add to family happiness and are beneficial to society. Along the same lines, a 2013 study done by Human Capital Institute in Vermont found flexibility in workplaces had a positive impact on recruitment and retention.
By Cheryl Blake
Editors Note: In determining how any size employer accommodates families, a good place to begin is Feminists for Life’s Family-Friendly Workplace Evaluation, from “Raising Expectations in the Workplace.” This tool helps to identify what policies, resources, employer and community support, and communications strategies employees and employers can use to work together. Among the issues covered in Feminists for Life’s survey are flexibility in work situations, accessibility for parents, health, safety, and family leave.