When we work from home (part of the time or all of the time), one of our biggest challenges is fitting work into life. When we work, we still have our priorities, interests, and needs. We have a home to care for, a body to keep healthy, and for most of us, we have loved ones who share our lives with us. These loved ones not only need support--they provide support. They are at the foundation of employees' happiness at work. They are one of our key sources of drive, care, and personal purpose.
In this era when the lines between work and home are blurring, it is perhaps more important than ever for workplaces to step up support for families and the other people who share lives with employees. American workplaces historically have been not very good about recognizing and nurturing families like they do employees themselves. Benefits like paid parental leave have been steadily rising for many years. While others--such as childcare benefits, adoption benefits, or fertility services coverage are still uncommon but slowly growing.
This slow move to adapt our work lives to our family lives creates serious challenges. Many employees are stressed or even overwhelmed by the juggling the two with limited help from their employers. Mothers and caregivers are particularly hard-hit. Childcare costs have skyrocketed and some communities do not have enough childcare services available to meet demand, leading to something experts are calling the "childcare crisis."
A recent BBC article profiled the lives of some mothers working from home, detailing the pressure and personal sacrifices that caregivers experience. Mona Zanhour, a management expert quoted in the article, says, “it’s a double-edged sword. Technology is allowing us to work and parent and live our lives all at the same time in the same space. But it becomes its own monster when we add the childcare crisis.”
Many benefits for family life are expensive and rather involved for employers to provide. On-site childcare, adoption benefits, and comprehensive dependent care packages are wonderful, but not all workplaces are in the right position to provide them. Let's look at some accessible, achievable things that most workplaces can consider to help with work and families:
Knowing your workplace and its families is the first step to the best workplace ever. Amazing Workplace can get you started on this path with our Employee Happiness Survey. Our survey provides important, accurate, actionable measurements of work-life balance, support from leadership, and analysis of benefits.