Many companies have found that having a family friendly work environment is good PR. That is, a company can garner great public attention with policies and programs supporting working parents. Whether the company makes a national list such as Working Mother Magazine’s top employers, or a write-up in the local paper, the recognition helps an employer attract new workers, and also builds public support for the company.
Unfortunately in reality, many organizations don’t live up to their family friendly claims. The policies exist, but are not actually utilized in the company. For example, some companies offer a flexible schedule option, but only with the boss’s approval. If your manager doesn’t believe in flexible work, you don’t get the option. Or, your career progress is delayed if you ask for a flexible option.
So if you are looking for a job change and want family friendly work, you should spend some time evaluating the claims of a potential employer. In addition to finding out if you want the job, you need to make an effort to find out if the company is truly supportive of working parents. Here are some ways to do it:
- Look for indications that company employees appreciate their families, such as photo displays or invitations to company picnics. Evidence of other working parents is a good sign.
- Look for an opportunity to talk to co-workers about the company culture and learn about a typical day. The less you see a typical day, the better.
- Find out how your potential supervisor measures productivity on the job. If he or she only looks at hours at work, then flexibility may not be an option.
- Find out what flexible work options are available, and then find out how much they are utilized.
- Ask about overtime work requirement. If overtime is required, how much notice you receive. It is difficult to manage family obligations if your schedule will vary without your control.
- Look for other benefits that support working parents such as child care assistance, generous time-off allowances and solid health insurance benefits.
If you are a parent, a family friendly work environment is essential. Whether you want a flexible work arrangement or just some understanding when you are dealing with a problem at home, you must do some research to learn about what working at the company is really like. The key is to spend some time evaluating not only the job, but also the company culture. The more you can learn about the company as well as your potential new boss, the better. Time spent evaluating the company before you take the job could avoid many obstacles later.