How can organizations help employees manage dependent care and work-related responsibilities?

by Aaronnette Jackson

December 02, 2011

Over the years, gender roles have changed tremendously in the workplace. Today, there are more women in the workforce than in past years and consequently more men are managing daily family responsibilities. “About three-quarters of women aged 25-34 participated in the labor force in the year 2000, to slightly more than half in 1975” (DiNatale & Boraas, 2002).

With more women entering the workforce, the demand for more work-life programs has increased.  A majority of workers spend many hours during the work week dealing with hectic traffic conditions, rushing to and from meetings, running errands for the family, and working on business-related projects late into the night, these demands take away from family time and needed physical rest and relaxation.

Because of the change in gender roles in the workforce, over time organizations should review their current policies and adopt more family-friendly policies, as appropriate.  According to a 2008 study by the Families and Work Institute, the percentage of employees experiencing some kind of work-life conflict increased from 34% in 1977 to 44% in 2008 (Families and Work Institute, 2008).  Flexible work arrangements allow an employer to offer a bargaining chip, as an alternative to raises and bonuses employers can offer employees flexible work arrangements to better manage their personal and professional responsibilities. Past research, such as a study done in 2005, by Georgetown University Law Center, have suggested that flexible work schedules along with family-friendly programs can be used by organizations as effective tools in lowering turnover and increasing productivity and job satisfaction (McGuire, Kenney, & Brashler, (2010).

With less conflict between work and dependent care responsibilities, employees can be more engaged in the workplace, thereby reducing stress, anxiety and other factors that can inhibit effective gains in the workplace.  Employers benefit from flexible work arrangements because his/her employees are often more engaged in their work.

Employees experience a higher level of job satisfaction when flexible work arrangements options are available to them. Both the employer and employee can benefit when an employer supports an employee to bridge the gap between the employee's personal and professional commitments. These are a key to success for organizations during tough economic times.  Flexible working arrangements, like telecommuting, can be a key differentiating factor in attracting and retaining top talent and meeting the needs of the changing workforce.