There’s no place like home – the benefits of becoming a family-friendly employer
July 2021   HEALTHCARE

There’s no place like home – the benefits of becoming a family-friendly employer

When it comes to work-life balance and family life, it could be argued that these pillars of Whole Health have taken the biggest hit recently, with the boundaries between them becoming increasingly blurred as a result of the pandemic.
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For working parents, lockdowns and restrictions have meant more time with children and more opportunities to connect. They have had the chance to get involved with their child’s schooling and spend more time with them than they may have done pre-pandemic. However, Cigna Europe’s latest 360 Well-being Survey results indicate that only 40% are actually spending quality time with their family. In addition, 79% of people who have children under 18 years old are stressed with 55% specifically stating they have work-related stress. 

For those working without children, there was a different picture, with almost a third concerned about the amount of time they were able to spend with family, and 27% saying they do not have a close-knit family that offers emotional support.

The reality is, the nature of the modern family has evolved and the personal lives of employees are diverse and complex. It’s important for employers to remember that no two employees are the same – each are managing different stressors in their professional and their family lives and are looking for varied levels of support from their employer. 

The employer can take two approaches here when it comes to supporting their employee groups – they can choose to invest in their workplace culture, focusing on truly understanding their workplace demographics and adapt their workplace policies to move towards becoming a family friendly employer. Or they can do nothing. How the employer responds could determine whether they are able to future-proof their business, attract and retain their top talent, and improve productivity. 

Take a deep dive into workplace demographics

Employers need to think more deeply about the Whole Health of their workforce and understand that looking after employees extends beyond looking after just their body and mind. Instead, employers should be focused on improving the Whole Health of their employees by providing them with tailored support and tools to help them face the demands of modern life, including help to maintain the balance between work and home life.  Understanding workplace demographics is an essential first step on this journey. 

Employee surveys or health risk assessments, like the one offered by health service provider Cigna Europe via their Cigna Wellbeing App,  will help identify the types of people that make up the workforce and uncover meaningful differences between groups of employees. By gaining insights into the workforce, employers will learn how many working parents there are, how many employees live alone or the number of employees who have caring responsibilities. From here, employers can identify the key issues affecting employees and the areas where they need more employer support - whether it’s offering flexible working, mental health support or access to healthcare for dependants.

When employers understand their employee demographics and work towards meeting their needs, employees are more likely to feel aligned with the mission, vision and values of the company, and offer in return higher levels of engagement and commitment to the cause.

What to consider when working towards becoming a family friendly employer

Robin Lewis, Cigna Europe’s HR Director shares his advice on what employers should consider when working towards becoming a flexible and comprehensive family friendly employer.

  • Define your family friendly policy– Consider your employee needs in line with the various flexible working arrangements you could offer your employees that would be mutually beneficial. Work practices which include options for term time working, flexitime, remote working and childcare support, extending a healthcare package to include dependents, will promote smart working practices which will allow employees to manage the conflict between their work and personal lives.


  • Integrate family friendly policies within the organisational strategy and culture– Top employers actively seek to make a supportive workplace culture a priority, this includes the ability to be adaptable to the evolving needs of their employees. It’s important to proactively communicate that the Whole Health of employees is the top priority. The workplace culture should be reflective of this, ensuring a family friendly and inclusive language is used in employee communications. Regular training should be provided to managers on the workplace practices available to employees to support working parents.  


  • Regularly review policies against workplace performance – Once new policies are implemented, it’s important that they are analysed, monitored, and regularly reviewed against productivity levels, absenteeism, recruitment, retention and return to work figures. This will provide the opportunity to make improvements or adjustments to the policy in line with employee and business needs.


  • Keep an open dialogue – Communication is everything. Becoming a successful family friendly employer comes down to transparency between the employer and the employees. Both parties need to feel comfortable in sharing positive and negative views of the workplace and discuss ways to keep progressing forward. With a positive and open workplace culture, employees feel valued and their opinions and needs respected.

A family friendly workplace will have a positive impact on Whole Health

Employers should to reflect on what Whole Health means to them and their employees. For example, some employees are focused on their physical health, and when they are healthy and well, they feel ready to take on everyday demands, at work and at home. For others, when they are focused and committed to their work, every other area of their life is positively impacted too. And for other employees, if their family is happy and well, then they are content in every other area of their world too.

With the modern family ranging from single parents, married couples, stepfamilies, and intergenerational households, chances are there’s a large percentage of the workforce who have caring responsibilities for children or relatives. And getting the right support in place for them is important.

By becoming a family friendly employer, employees will be well equipped and supported to manage both their professional and personal commitments while enjoying a sense of harmony between their work and home-life, knowing their employer is considerate of their life outside of work. One less thing to worry about for the busy working parent – and a huge positive step in looking after their own Whole Health.

Promoting this healthy balance between work and family life will pay dividends for the employer too.  The workforce will be happier, more engaged, and more productive. And most importantly, you’ll have created a thriving workplace culture, focused on the ever-evolving needs of your employees, and at the same time, placing their Whole Health needs at the heart of the workplace strategy.


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