What makes up a family flexible workplace?

Historically it has been the case that workplaces and workers have attempted to draw clear lines between work and home life. However, the dramatic changes in working conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how futile these attempts are, with work and home life now more enmeshed than ever before.

A positive outcome of the pandemic (and let’s be honest there’s only a few) is evidence showing workplaces have become more understanding of the work/life juggle with three-quarters implementing improved flexible work arrangements for their employees. While these are positive initiatives for organisations and employees there’s many more ways workplaces can become family flexible workplaces.

What is a family flexible workplace (FFW)?

FFW’s are those that strive to create a culture where employees are genuinely supported to thrive in both their work and home lives and to fulfil responsibilities as employees, family members and/or carers.

FFW are underpinned by supportive policies and practices which aim to positively impact employee’s ability to balance work commitments with family/carer responsibilities, meet both professional and personal requirements and enhances the wellbeing and development of those within their care.

So, what do family flexible workplace policies and practices look like?

FFW have developed a set of standards in line with best practice research, input from strategic partners, diversity and inclusion, family wellbeing and other policy experts to guide organisations in developing and embedding effective FFW policies and practices. These standards are represented across the following categories:

  • Flexible Work: A flexible work framework accommodates variable working hours, location, and job design to support diverse work and family life needs by providing adequate resources such to enable flexibility. For example, reduced work hours, working from home arrangements and job sharing.
  • Parental Leave: Includes paid parental leave entitlements which are inclusive and accessible to all employees, regardless of gender and/or family type.
  • Family Care: A carers support framework provides all employees with flexibility and resources to accommodate carer responsibilities for children, dependants with a disability, mental or chronic illness and aged/elderly relatives. For example, emergency care which may include access to short notice leave or paid breaks for breastfeeding with access to an appropriate feeding space.
  • Family Wellbeing: Providing and promoting support services for employees and family members. For example, paid and unpaid leave provisions for employees experiencing family and domestic abuse or violence and mental health support services for employees and family members.
The benefits

From an organisational perspective, FFW provisions are more likely to attract and retain dedicated staff, reduce absenteeism, improve productivity and create a more highly engaged, motivated and loyal workforce. FFW arrangements also help to improve gender diversity in the workplace through the provision of equal standards for all employees which improves and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion.

On a more individual level, FFW practices help to boost the wellbeing of children, dependents, parents, and carers in working families which in turn positively impacts the quality of work-life for every family and contributes more broadly to the health and wellbeing of our society and economy.

To learn more about how your workplace can implement more family flexible workplace initiatives, contact the Centre for Corporate Health on 02 8243 1500 or admin@cfch.com.au