Just as you stand up from your final bow after implementing a new family friendly work policy, you feel the white hot glare of all the single people in your office. All the people that are now going to have to pick up the extra shifts, work the holidays, and travel more to accommodate this new and progressive program. 


Is it possible to implement a family friendly work environment without adversely impacting singles?


This has been an important question for XPLANE to answer as an organization. Trying to balance extensive travel schedules, a company-wide value of work life balance, and a healthy mix of single and caregiver employees has not been easy. But by keeping a few important principles in mind, it is possible to create an environment that is family friendly without hurting singles.   


It’s all about flexibility. Give all employees access to flexible work schedules or arrangements, and ask all employees to pitch in to help cover.  If Ryan has to take his kid to the doctor one day and Lauren covers, then when Lauren needs to leave early for her rock climbing class-Ryan can cover. 


Don’t make the judgment call. Often managers will act as referee between employees’ requests for flexibility. Step back from that position. Allow employees to determine a solution or compromise.  If one cannot be met, then lean on the most equitable practice of “first come, first serve.” There may be situations where you step in to find a solution, but let that be the exception. Worse than managers acting as judges, is judgmental practices written into handbooks.  A perfect example is bereavement time.  Employers allocate time based on “closeness of the relative” and make no mention of non-related significant others.  Have a maximum amount of bereavement leave, and let employees make the determination.


Remove the stigma of “the slacker.” Everyone from working mothers to single men feel that twinge of guilt when they choose to take care of a personal event over a work obligation.  “Will people think I am a slacker if I am out again to take care of my daughter?” “Do people think I am not pulling my weight if I leave early on Friday’s to train for my marathon?” The best way to remove that stigma is to model the behavior you want to see. If you want employees to feel free to utilize flex time, then you must utilize it yourself.


Every employee benefits from workplace policies that better balance their work with their personal life.  That balance might be yoga or maybe it is taking a kid to soccer, whatever the event, employees need to feel supported. The trick is to make sure that those that are not in caregiver roles are not always tasked with picking up the extra work.


How does your company ensure work life balance is equitable?