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More NC Employers Join Effort to Make Workplaces Family Friendly

Around 75% of mothers and 50% of fathers have passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit to care for their children, according to data from the NC Early Childhood Foundation. (Adobe Stock)
Around 75% of mothers and 50% of fathers have passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit to care for their children, according to data from the NC Early Childhood Foundation. (Adobe Stock)
February 3, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. -- More North Carolina employers are enacting family friendly workplace policies such as flexible schedules, paid parental leave and support for breastfeeding mothers.

One 2018 study found nearly three in four North Carolinians said they would be more committed to their employer if more family friendly benefits were offered.

Ann Welton, president of the Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce, works with more than 700 local businesses. She says in a competitive job market, retaining high quality workers is becoming increasingly critical across sectors, including tourism and manufacturing.

"By enacting some of these policies within the workplace, they're going to do a better job about attracting and retaining top quality workers," she states.

Welton points to a guide developed by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation that contains research-based practices employers can adopt to keep employees happy and increase productivity.

According to the foundation's biennial report, more than 4,000 employers have looked at the guide.

Last fall, Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order providing up to eight weeks paid parental leave for state employees.

A 2015 study from the Pew Research Center says the number of two-parent American households where both parents work full-time is on the rise.

Banu Valladares, who operates a bilingual preschool in Charlotte, says taking the time to research the costs and benefits of offering more paid time off, among other family-friendly incentives, and listening to feedback from her employees have improved retention.

"So we were able to implement that, so we increased our PTO for teaching staff from 56 hours to 80 hours," she relates.

Welton points to a cultural shift among younger workers in their 20s and 30s, who value workplace flexibility over making more money. She says employers need to reflect that change in values and notes workers today are prioritizing a work-life balance.

"And they want to be in a workplace that allows them to spend time with family, whether it's taking a child to a doctor's appointment or going to a school play, or caring for an aging parent," she points out.

According to federal data, employee absenteeism due to child care issues costs U.S. businesses $4.4 billion in lost revenue each year.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC