Work life practices and policies
Worklife practices and policies
Familyrelated challenges in working environment
Inthe modern world, business organizations are competing for market fortheir products as well as in the labor markets. The success of anorganization is dependent on its ability to attract and retain highlyskilled and experienced employees. This is influence by the policiesorganization has implemented to take care of the welfare of theemployees. It is important to note that the most productive part ofthe population has huge family and social obligations. In majority ofthe households in the modern world, at least one of the parents isworking. Majority of workers family obligations where they areexpected to take care of their children and parents and in some casesa sick member of the family. In the modern workforce, up to 40percent of workers are women in their reproductive age. Given thatwomen are the primary care givers in the family settings. This hasbrought about new challenges in human resources management. Employeeshave difficulties balancing between their family obligations andtheir jobs. This is associated with increases cases of workplacesstress, which affects productivity and relationships in workplaces.There is an increasing challenge for organization to take care of theneeds of the changing labor force. Therefore, a workplace thatrecognize family obligations are considered more attractive andcompetitive in the labor market. This has forced organizations toadopt policies that create family friendly environments (Mills,2014).
Kimballinternational is one of the largest furniture manufacturing companiesin the United States. The company has corporate, government anddomestic customers in the United States and other parts of the world.The company has three main brands, National office furniture, Kimballoffice and Kimball hospitality. The company which was founded in 1857has its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. It employs more that threethousand employees directly (Kimball international website).
KimballInternational has an organizational policy that is based on therecognition of family in the well being of its employees. Therefore,the company has made numerous attempts to promote family values andpromote a working environment that recognizes the family needs of itsemployees. While majority of companies only focus on their employeeswelfare, Kimball International is concerned about the children,elders and families of its employees. Some of Kimball Internationalcorporate activities that support family values include therecognizing and supporting employee’s special events and birthdays,children annual parties, family activities organized by the company,company scholarship to employees’ children and medical insurancecover (Kimball international website)
Thereis no doubt that the organization has made a significant attempt toimplement family based policies. However, more benefits will beaccrued from more robust and comprehensive polices that supportfamilies and family life. There are several forms of family friendlypolicies that can be implemented in a workplace. Perhaps in house daycare for children, especially if there is a high concentration ofmothers with young children is considered the most ambitious familybased policies in a workplace. However, day care facilities aresuitable for specific organizations. Additionally, it is an expensiveventure, and required specially trained staff, special facilities andin some cases a license from the authorities (Bloom et al, 2011).Although Kimball may consider this as an option, after consultationwith the employees, there are other policies that are recommended tomake the workplaces more family friendly. They include
Flexible working schedule: The organization should recognize that their employees have family obligations and therefore time is the most variable asset. A flexible working schedule will allow individuals with sensitive family responsibility to work at their most convenient time. For example, an employee may opt to take midweek off instead of weekend to attend an official family obligation (Mills, 2014).
Work outside the workstation. The organization main concern is the completion of tasks assigned to employees. In cases where an individual can attend to his or her duties away from the work station due to family responsibility, the facilitation of the company would be essential. The advent of technology enables people to work away from their permanent workplaces (Mills, 2014).
Switch between part-time and fulltime. The company can consider special cases of family obligation and allow some employees to switch from fulltime to part-time job. For example, an individual taking care of a seriously sick family member may be allowed to work less hours depending on the demand of his or family obligation (Mills, 2014).
Parental or family medical leave. Majority of companies offer maternity or paternity leave as part of benefits to their workers. However, there is a need for a company that promotes a family friendly environment to have an above board policy on parental leave. This would include medical leave for employees who are required to take care of immediate family members in case of a serious illness (Mills, 2014).
Other policies that can be considered include financial support form of loans to employees with emergency family needs, scholarships for employees’ children and other assistance programs.
Althoughthere are cost implications of creating a family friendly workingenvironment, it results into a win win situation. Both the employeeand employer benefit from the policies and programs. These policiesare for the good of the children and elderly who require theattention of more energetic members of the society. They are also inthe best interest of the employers. Since they benefit the communityin the long run, they are part of an essential corporate socialresponsibility. Proponents of huge investments in creating a familyfriendly working environment have argued that the organization mayspend billions in corporate social responsibility programs, but themost important community is the employees of the organization (Mills,2014). Organizations such as Kimball International have thousands ofemployees. If the organization is able to support their families,thousands of families will benefit directly or indirectly from anenvironment that supports family life.
Theemployees will be the beneficially of the programs, and thereforewould be able to reap the most benefits. Parents will be able tospend more time with their children, which strengthen family bonds.Employees will also be able to have more time with their spouses andother family members. This will directly or indirectly reduce thelevel of stress among the employees since they will be able to meetmajority of their family obligations. The policies will also reducestress among individuals in the families who require special care andattention, especially the elderly and sick. This will aid in theirrecovery and increase the morale and energy of the employees in theworkplaces. The company will also benefit greatly from a familyfriendly environment. Studies indicate that employees in workenvironments where their family needs are recognized and addressesare more productive (Mills, 2014). A switch to a more family friendlyworking environment is associated with increased morale of employees,resulting into increase productivity and profits. These policies arealso essential in ensuring that the organization attract and retaintalented and experienced employees. This reduces the cost of hiringand training new workers as a result of high turnover (Parkers &Langford, 2008). Family friendly working environments are alsobeneficial to the society. They results into more stable families andenhances the outlook of the next generation. It also enables peopleto positively contribute to the society since individuals do not havedifficult time balancing work and family. However, there is costimplication, especially the financial investment required toimplement the policies. For example, flexible working hours mayrequire the organization to hire additional staff. Additionally, someemployees may be tempted to misuse the policies and programs (Mills,2014).
Companiesin the modern world are competing for consumers as well as skilledand experienced workers. Therefore, organizations have adopted humanresource management strategies that attract and retained workers.This includes creating a family friendly environment. In the modernworkforce, workers are forced to balance between the familyobligations and the work related duties. The family obligationsinclude taking care of children, elderly and sick members of thefamily. Women in their productive age constitute an important partthe workforce. The company, employees and the society benefits fromfamily friendly working environment. Some of the policies thatpromote a family friendly working environment include flexibleworking hours, work outside the workstation, part-time job andmedical leave among others.
Bloom,N., Kretschmer, T. & Van Reenen, J. (2011). “Are familyfriendly workplace practices a valuable firm resource?” StrategicManagement Journal,32(4), p 343-367.
Mills,M. (2014). Genderandthe work-family experience: an intersection of two domains,Cham: Springer.
Parkers,L. P. & Langford, P. H. (2008). “Work-life balance or work-lifealignment? A test of the importance of work-life balance for employeeengagement and intention to stay in organizations”. Journalof Management & Organization,267-284.