November 4, 2022
Director, Policy & Programs, Early Childhood Education, USCCF Center for Education and Workforce
Work-life balance is becoming an increasingly high priority for many employees — especially for working parents looking to balance childcare and family responsibilities with their career goals. For small businesses looking to attract and retain top talent, adopting a holistic approach to organizational work policies can go a long way.
As part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Childcare Roadmap for Employers event, two employees of Better Communities Collaborative (BCC) discuss how leadership can implement flexible organizational policies to better support working parents.
Flexibility Attracts Employees and Builds a Positive Culture
According to Amy Clark, director of HR at BCC, the company has been “flexible from the beginning in a lot of ways,” — but prioritizing that flexibility, and accommodating employees accordingly, has had a positive effect.
“Recently, we started listening even more to our employees [by] surveying them and finding out exactly what they need,” Clark explained. “And what we found is more PTO [and] more flexibility will make such a big difference in their life. We decided to really lean into that, particularly in the last year or so, because we knew it was such a tough job market.”
Clark added that between last year and this year, the company grew from approximately 60 employees to about 140, with candidates from different backgrounds.
“I think [the flexibility has] really made a big difference in our culture, and it’s brought people into [our company],” she said. “And I think showing that we’re a little different, treating people with more humanity … and sort of [giving] them a break has made a difference for our people.”
A Flexible Workplace Empowers Working Parents to Be Better Employees and Caregivers
Lauren Garren, senior project manager at W&A (under BCC), shared her firsthand experience of how a flexible workplace has helped her thrive as an employee and a mother.
“Even this past Monday, I was home because … [my child] was sick, so [it was helpful] just having the flexibility to work from home,” said Garren. “There’s no stress or pressure with my supervisor, my director — they completely understand if I need to work from home that day or multiple days in a row, [and] I get my work done.”
“It’s been really fortunate for me and my family,” she added. “It also makes me a better employee, because that stress … is not there, so then I get to be a better consultant, a better engineer, and a better mom.”
For Employers: Listen to Your Employees, Then Provide a Path for Success
Taking a flexible approach to childcare and work policies shows employees that their companies aren’t just interested in worker productivity, but are invested in their employees as people. For leaders who aren’t sure where to begin, Clark offers some simple advice: listen to your employees.
“We do surveys, we do focus [groups], and they’ve got some really great ideas … we’re not coming to them with what we think is right, but they’re able to tell us,” she said. “So really [listen] to them, then start where you can.”
“From the employee perspective, [employers can] provide a path for success for all employees — working moms, working dads, non-parent employees — but providing that path to success and also celebrating it,” Garren said.