Why every workplace needs a family friendly strategy

There is one thing all employees have in common – a ‘life’ outside of work.

No matter how you define ‘family’, we all have a variety of needs and commitments we must juggle outside of work – effectively, we all belong to a family who have expectations of us.

Never before has work and family life been so intertwined and the implications are reverberating across every workplace as employees trickle back into the ‘office’.

Over the past 12 months, the impact of Covid-19 restrictions highlighted the struggle many employees faced when creating pop-up workspaces in their homes, crowded around domestic and caring duties.


“In 2020, we saw the devastating impact families experienced when the demands of work and care collided in lockdown, particularly for women. The impact is forcing workplaces to rethink how employees combine their work and home responsibilities.”

Emma Walsh, CEO Parents At Work

Now leading Australia female economic experts are urging federal government to advance policies such as paid parental leave and affordable childcare to ensure women don’t lose out as the nation rebounds from the pandemic.

Employee family commitments, and the caring responsibilities that ensue must be acknowledged, planned for and responded to by both government and the business community by implementing policies and practices that allow all employees to reconcile work and family demands.


“The fact is, family is no longer something government nor employers can afford to ignore, and if embraced, there is a compelling return of investment that benefits government, business, individuals and the wider economy” Emma Walsh

“Investing in family-friendly policies is good for the family, business and the economy.” UNICEF


A 2019 study by UNICEF found that organisations who take better care of their employees by creating supportive conditions at work yield greater benefits for their people as well as their business across a number of indicators including ‘workers’ productivity, earnings, gender equality, business growth, brand equity, talent recruitment and retention, and improved employee health, engagement and morale.’ (1)

Increasingly, and more so since Covid 19, people want to work in a supportive environment, one that enables them to have a family without it impacting negatively on their career prospects.

For many, caring for their family is paramount, and employees will make career sacrifices to achieve balance.  More often than not, these ‘career sacrifices’ are made by women who continue to carry the caring load as evidenced by the high proportion of women who work part time.

When compared to other OECD nations, Australia continues to have one of the highest percentage of part time female workforce participation. ABS Gender Indicator Data, released in December 2020, reported that employed women between ages 20-74 are (43.0%) are more likely than men (16.0%) to be working part-time.

Furthermore, parents whose youngest child was under six, three in five employed mothers (59.1%) worked part-time compared to less than one in ten employed fathers (7.9%). This trend continues as children grow. Data shows that women are more likely to continue working part time, more so than men, when children start school and move into the teenage years. Parents whose youngest child was aged 6-14 years, close to half of all employed mothers (47.7%) worked part-time, compared to less than one in ten employed fathers (8.7%).(3)

It’s clear that without a family friendly workplace strategy, an organisation lessens its chances of reducing gender inequality and retaining and attracting great talent.

There can be no doubt that the workplace of the future will be more family friendly. Taking action is the key.

The long-term benefits of a family friendly workplace strategy contribute to:

-       Bridging the gender pay gap

-       Creating greater opportunities for women and men to share the caring load

-       Enabling more women to progress into leadership

-       Reducing absenteeism and instances of carer discrimination

-       Enhancing workplace productivity, inclusion and diversity

-       Reducing gender bias

-       Enhancing engagement

-       Facilitating greater health and wellbeing outcomes for employees and their families


If your organisation would like support to review its policies or to create an Action Plan for making steps towards being more family friendly please contact one of our consultants via info@parentsatwork.com.au. Review companies who are leading the charge on our case study page.




(1)   UNICEF 2019; Family-Friendly Policies: Redesigning the Workplace of the Future - a policy brief - https://www.unicef.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/UNICEF-policy-brief-family-friendly-policies-2019.pdf

(2)   UNICEF Redesigning the workplace to be family-friendly: What governments and businesses can do. Investing in family-friendly policies is good for the family, business and the economy - https://www.unicef.org/early-childhood-development/family-friendly-policies

(3) ABS, Gender Indicators, Australia. Released December 15, 2020