Why National Work and Family Month is Important to Productivity

work-life-balance.jpgMore and more people are finding themselves sandwiched between caring for children and aging parents, all while maintaining demanding full-time jobs. What's more, a lot of people are finding their productivity decreasing and health suffering as a result of working long hours.

Fortune Magazine predicted in 2003 that work-life effectiveness was going to be one of the most important business growth trends of the decade. It was with this in mind that Fortune, in collaboration with the Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP), dubbed October National Work and Family Month. The month recognizes "the importance of employer-sponsored work-life programs in attracting, motivating, and retaining top talent."

AWLP listed a series of ideas employers can utilize to celebrate the month.

  • Poll employees about their need for information in the area of parenting, caregiving, after-school care, volunteerism, retirement planning, etc. and plan a series of Lunch 'n Learns during the month, bringing in experts to talk about those issues.
  • Bring in a geriatric care manager for a day (or more) during the month to answer employees' questions about caregiving.
  • Post quotable quotes about the importance of family on the company intranet -- a new one each week for the month of October. The quotes can be researched or from executives/directors.
  • Solicit family photos of employees' families for posting the company intranet showing names, ages, and some interesting achievements (e.g., scholastic, sports, etc.) which the employer helped support, either directly or indirectly.
  • Solicit little known facts about employees and their families and run a trivia quiz Web poll on the company intranet. (e.g., "Which XYZ employee has 10 children and 22 grandchildren?" Employees simply scroll down to see the answer.)
  • Launch a work-life survey to solicit employee opinion on programs/offerings that your company should expand upon, add or discontinue.
  • Solicit real-life stories from employees on how they successfully manage work and family challenges for inclusion into an article to be posted on the corporate Web site.
  • Have a guest speaker on work and family at the next all staff meeting.
  • Hold an art contest for the children of employees to participate in depicting work and family together. The art can be displayed on the meeting room walls at an all staff meeting and the top three winners (or their parents) can be presented with a prize.
(Work/Life Balance image by Mike "Dakinewavamon" Kline)