Business is a good thing. Family is also a good thing. These are simple, self-evident propositions.
Yet the awkward fact is that when we try to combine these two assertions in the new labor force, they stop being safe, compatible, and obvious and become difficult, even antagonistic. Sometimes the most complex and controversial challenges we face have commonsense truths at their roots. Consider these variations on the same theme:
• Our economy needs the most skilled and productive work force it can possibly find in order to remain competitive.
• That same work force must reproduce itself and give adequate care to the children who are the work force of the future.
• People with children—women especially—often find themselves at a serious disadvantage in the workplace. Among Western democracies, the United States ranks number three in dependence on women in the work force, behind only Scandinavia and Canada.
In short, we value both business and family, and they are increasingly at loggerheads.
The Family as a Business Issue
At one time, women provided the support system that enabled male breadwinners to be productive outside the home for at least 40 hours every week. That home-based support system began to recede a generation ago and is now more the exception than the rule. The labor force now includes more than 70% of all women with children between the ages of 6 and 17 and more than half the women with children less than 1 year old. This new reality has had a marked effect on what the family requires of each family member—and on what employers can expect from employees. It is not only a question of who is responsible for very young children. There is no longer anyone home to care for adolescents and the elderly. There is no one around to take in the car for repair or to let the plumber in. Working families are faced with daily dilemmas: Who will take care of a sick child? Who will go to the big soccer game? Who will attend the teacher conference?
Yet employees from families where all adults work are still coping with rules and conditions of work designed, as one observer put it, to the specifications of Ozzie and Harriet. These conditions include rigid adherence to a 40-hour workweek, a concept of career path inconsistent with the life cycle of a person with serious family responsibilities, notions of equity formed in a different era, and performance-evaluation systems that confuse effort with results by equating hours of work with productivity.
Despite the growing mismatch between the rules of the game and the needs of the players, few companies have made much effort to accommodate changing lifestyles. For that matter, how serious can the problem really be? After all, employees still get to work and do their jobs. Somehow the plumber manages to find the key. We know that children and the elderly are somewhere. Why start worrying now? Women’s entry into the labor force has been increasing for 20 years, and the system still appears to function.
Nevertheless, we are seeing a rapidly growing corporate interest in work-and-family issues. There are four principal business reasons:
First, work-force demographics are changing. Most of the increase in the number of working women has coincided with the baby boom. Any associated business fallout—high turnover, lost productivity, absenteeism—occurred in the context of a large labor surplus. Most people were easily replaced, and there was plenty of talent willing to make the traditional sacrifices for success— such as travel, overtime work, and relocation. With the baby boom over and a baby bust upon us, there are now higher costs associated with discouraging entry into the labor force and frustrating talented people who are trying to act responsibly at home as well as at work. In some parts of the country, labor is already so scarce that companies are using progressive family policies as a means of competing for workers.
Second, employee perceptions are changing. Unless we rethink our traditional career paths, the raised aspirations of many women are now clearly on a collision course with their desire to be parents. Before the emergence of the women’s movement in the 1960s, many suburban housewives thought their frustrations were uniquely their own. Similarly, for 20 years corporate women who failed to meet their own high expectations considered it a personal failing. But now the invisible barriers to female advancement are being named, and the media take employers to task for their inflexibility.
This shift in women’s perceptions greatly changes the climate for employers. Women and men in two-career and single-parent families are much better able to identify policies that will let them act responsibly toward their families and still satisfy their professional ambitions. Companies that don’t act as partners in this process may lose talent to companies that do rise to the challenge. No one knows how many women have left large companies because of cultural rigidity. It is even harder to guess at the numbers of talented women who have never even applied for jobs because they assume big companies will require family sacrifices they are unwilling to make.
And it’s not just women. In two studies at Du Pont, we found that men’s reports of certain family-related problems nearly doubled from 1985 to 1988. (Interestingly, on a few of these items, women’s reported problems decreased proportionally, which suggests that one reason women experience such great difficulty with work-and-family issues is that men experience so little.)
In fact, men’s desire for a more active role in parenting may be unacceptable to their peers. Numerous reports show that few men take advantage of the formal parental leave available to them in many companies. Yet a recent study shows that many men do indeed take time off from work after the birth of a child, but that they do so by piecing together other forms of leave—vacation, personal leave, sick leave—that they see as more acceptable.1
A third reason why more companies are addressing work-and-family issues is increasing evidence that inflexibility has an adverse effect on productivity. In a study at Merck in 1984, employees who perceived their supervisors as unsupportive on family issues reported higher levels of stress, greater absenteeism, and lower job satisfaction.2 Other studies show that supportive companies attract new employees more easily, get them back on the job more quickly after maternity leave, and benefit generally from higher work-force morale.3
Fourth, concern about America’s children is growing fast. Childhood poverty is up, single-parent families are on the increase, SAT scores are falling, and childhood literacy, obesity, and suicide rates are all moving in the wrong direction.
So far, the business community has expressed its concern primarily through direct efforts to improve schools. Yet in our studies, one-third to one-half of parents say they do not have the workplace flexibility to attend teacher conferences and important school events. It is certainly possible that adapting work rules to allow this parent-school connection—and trying to influence schools to schedule events with working parents in mind—might have as great a positive effect on education as some direct interventions.
For companies that want to use and fully develop the talents of working parents and others looking for flexibility, the agenda is well defined. There are three broad areas that require attention:
• Dependent care, including infants, children, adolescents, and the elderly.
• Greater flexibility in the organization, hours, and location of work, and creation of career paths that allow for family responsibility as well as professional ambition.
• Validation of family issues as an organizational concern by means of company statements and manager training.
Few companies are active in all three areas. Many are active in none. The costs and difficulties are, after all, considerable, and the burden of change does not fall only on employers. There is plenty for government to do. Individual employees too will have to take on new responsibilities. Corporate dependent-care programs often mean purchasing benefits or programs from outside providers and may entail substantial community involvement. Workplace flexibility demands reexamination of work assumptions by employees as well as employers and often meets with line resistance. A corporate commitment to family takes time to work its way down to the front-line supervisory levels where most of the work force will feel its effects.
Dependent care is a business issue for the obvious reason that employees cannot come to work unless their dependents are cared for. Study after study shows that most working parents have trouble arranging child care, and that those with the most difficulty also experience the most frequent work disruptions and the greatest absenteeism. Moreover, the lack of child care is still a major barrier to the entry of women into the labor force.
Child-care needs vary greatly in any employee population, and most companies have a limited capacity to address them. But, depending on the company’s location, financial resources, the age of its work force, and the competitiveness of its labor market, a corporate child-care program might include some or all of the following:
• Help in finding existing child care and efforts to increase the supply of care in the community, including care for sick children.
• Financial assistance for child care, especially for entry-level and lower-level employees.
• Involvement with schools, Ys, and other community organizations to promote programs for school-age children whose parents work.
• Support for child-care centers in locations convenient to company employees.
• Efforts to move government policies—local and federal—toward greater investment in children.
Existing child care is often hard to find because so much of the country’s care is provided by the woman down the street, who does not advertise and is not usually listed in the yellow pages or anywhere else. Even where lists do exist—as the result, say, of state licensing requirements—they are often out-of-date. (Turnover in family day care, as this form of child care is called, is estimated at 50% per year.) And lists don’t give vacancy information, so parents can spend days making unsuccessful phone calls. Sometimes existing care is invisible because it operates in violation of zoning rules or outside of onerous or inefficient regulatory systems.
In other places—suburban neighborhoods where many women work outside the home or where family income is so high that few need the extra money—there is virtually no child care. Often, too, land prices make centers unaffordable. Infant care is especially scarce because it requires such a high ratio of adults to children. Care for children before and after school and during the many weeks when school is out is in short supply just about everywhere, as is care for “off hour” workers such as shift workers, police officers, and hospital employees.
In addition to the difficulty of finding child care, quality and affordability are always big questions. Cost depends greatly on local standards. In Massachusetts, for example, infant care in centers runs from $150 to more than $200 per week per child due to a combination of high labor costs and strict state licensing standards. Even the highest standards, however, still mean that an infant-care staff member has more to do all day—and more responsibility—than a new parent caring for triplets. In states with lower standards, one staff member may care for as many as eight infants at a time. Up to now, child care in many places has been made affordable by paying very low wages—the national average for child-care staff is $5.35 an hour—and by reducing the standards of quality and safety below what common sense would dictate.4
Given all these problems, is it any wonder the companies that want to help feel stymied? Although few companies provide significant child-care support today, a very large number are exploring the possibility. We think that number will increase geometrically as the competition for labor grows and more members of the labor force need such support.
One increasingly popular way for companies to address these issues is through resource and referral services. Typically, such services do three things: they help employees find child care suited to their circumstances; they make an effort to promote more care of all types in the communities where employees live; and they try to remove regulatory and zoning barriers to care facilities. Resource and referral services (R&Rs) meet standards of equity by assisting parents regardless of their incomes and their children’s ages. And R&Rs work as well for a few workers as for thousands. When the service is delivered through a network of community-based R&Rs, moreover, corporate involve-ment also can strengthen the community at large.
Although R&R programs can be very helpful, they have limitations. By themselves, they have little effect on affordability, for example, and only an indirect effect on quality, primarily through consumer education and provider training. Also, R&Rs cannot dig up a supply of care where market conditions are highly unfavorable.
A small but growing number of companies provide, subsidize, or contract with outside providers to operate on-site or near-site centers that are available to employees at fees covering at least most of the cost. A North Carolina software company, SAS Institute Inc., provides child care at an on-site center at no cost to employees. The company reports that its turnover rates are less than half the industry average and feels the center’s extra expense is justified because it decreases the extremely high cost of training new workers.5
Companies that get involved with child-care centers, however, find themselves making difficult tradeoffs as a result of the high cost of good care. Many companies won’t associate themselves even indirectly with any child care that doesn’t meet the highest standards, which means that without a subsidy, only higher-income employees can afford the service. But if a company does subsidize child care, it must justify giving this considerable benefit to one group of parents while other parents, who buy child care in some other place or way, get none. One way of avoiding this dilemma is to give child-care subsidies to all lower-income employees as an extension of the R&R service, the approach recently announced by NCNB, the banking corporation.
Companies sometimes capitalize centers by donating space or land along with renovation costs or by providing an initial subsidy until the centers are self-supporting. In this way, Du Pont helped a number of community not-for-profit organizations establish and expand existing child-care centers in Delaware. Of course, costs can vary hugely. If a building is already available, renovation and startup costs could be as low as $100,000. In most cases, the bill will run from several hundred thousand to several million dollars.
Businesses also are working more closely with schools to encourage before-school, after-school, and vacation care programs. Such a partnership has been established between the American Bankers Insurance Group and the Dade County, Florida, school system. The school system actually operates a kindergarten and a first- and second-grade school in a building built by the insurance company. In Charlotte, North Carolina, the 19 largest employers have joined forces with the public sector to expand and improve the quality of care.
In any case, employee interest in child care is great, and employees often fix on the issue of on-site care as a solution to the work-and-family conflicts they experience. But helping employees with child care, given the enormity of the problem in the society at large, is a complicated question. More and more companies are taking the kinds of steps described here, but as the pressure grows, business as a whole is likely to focus more attention on public policy.
Of course, dependent care is not just a question of care for children. Studies at Travelers Insurance Company and at IBM show that 20% to 30% of employees have some responsibility for the care of an adult dependent. Traditionally, the wife stayed home and cared for the elderly parents of both spouses, but as women entered the work force, this support system began to disappear. Because the most recent growth in the female work force involves comparatively younger women whose parents are not yet old enough to require daily assistance, the workplace has probably not yet felt the full effects of elder-care problems.
As in the case of child care, studies show that productivity suffers when people try to balance work and the care of parents. Some people quit their jobs entirely. The most immediate need is for information about the needs and problems of the aging and about available resources. Most young people know nothing at all about government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. More often than not, children know very little about their own parents’ financial situations and need help simply to open communication.
Unlike child care, elder care is often complicated by distance. In our experience with some 12,000 employees with elderly dependents, more than half lived more than 100 miles from the person they were concerned about. Crises are common. The elderly suffer unexpected hospitalizations, for example, and then come out of the hospital too weak to care for themselves. A service that can help with referrals and arrangements in another city can spare employees time, expense, and anguish. Also, people often need to compare resources in several states where different siblings live in order to make decisions about such things as where parents should live when their health begins to deteriorate.
Conditions of Work
A study at two high-tech companies in New England showed that the average working mother logs in a total workweek of 84 hours between her home and her job, compared with 72 hours for male parents and about 50 hours for married men and women with no children. In other words, employed parents—women in particular—work the equivalent of two full-time jobs.6 No wonder they’ve started looking for flexible schedules, part-time employment, and career-path alternatives that allow more than one model of success. For that matter, is it even reasonable to expect people who work two jobs to behave and progress along exactly the same lines as those with no primary outside responsibilities?
Until now, most companies have looked at job flexibility on a case-by-case basis and have offered it sparingly to valued employees as a favor. But increasing competition for the best employees will make such flexibility commonplace. A smaller labor supply means that workers will no longer have to take jobs in the forms that have always been offered. Companies will have to market their own employment practices and adapt their jobs to the demands of the work force.
We all know that the way we did things in the past no longer works for many employees. Our research shows that up to 35% of working men and women with young children have told their bosses they will not take jobs involving shift work, relocation, extensive travel, intense pressure, or lots of overtime. Some parents are turning down promotions that they believe might put a strain on family life. Women report more trade-offs than men, but even the male numbers are significant and appear to be increasing. In our study, nearly 25% of men with young children had told their bosses they would not relocate.
Interestingly enough, few employees seem angry about such trade-offs. They value the rewards of family life, and by and large, they don’t seem to expect parity with those willing to sacrifice their family lives for their careers. Nevertheless, they are bothered by what they see as unnecessary barriers to success. Most believe they could make greater contributions and go farther in their own careers—despite family obligations—if it weren’t for rigid scheduling, open-ended expectations, and outmoded career definitions. They long for alternative scenarios that would allow them more freedom to determine the conditions of their work and the criteria for judging their contributions.
The question is whether a willingness to sacrifice family life is an appropriate screen for picking candidates for promotions. It would be wrong to suppose that these employees are any less talented or less ambitious than those who don’t make the family trade-off. One study we conducted at NCNB showed no evidence of any long-term difference in ambition between people with and without child-care responsibilities. Because fewer and fewer people in our diverse labor force are willing to pay the price for traditional success, to insist on it is only to narrow the funnel of opportunity and, eventually, to lower the quality of the talent pool from which we draw our leaders.
In addition to time away from work to care for newborn or newly adopted children, employees with dependent-care responsibilities have two different needs for flexibility. One is the need for working hours that accommodate their children’s normal schedules and their predictable special requirements such as doctor’s appointments, school conferences, and soccer championships. The other is the need to deal with the emergencies and unanticipated events that are part and parcel of family life—sudden illness, an early school closing due to snow, a breakdown in child-care arrangements.
The most common response to both needs has been flextime. Flextime can be narrowly designed to permit permanent alterations of a basically rigid work schedule by, say, half an hour or an hour, or it can be more broadly defined to allow freewheeling variations from one workday to the next.
Pioneered in this country by Hewlett-Packard, flextime is now used by about 12% of all U.S. workers, while half the country’s large employers offer some kind of flextime arrangement. Its effects on lateness, absenteeism, and employee morale have been highly positive.7 The effects on the family are not as easily measured, but most employees say they find it helpful, and the more scheduling latitude it offers, the more helpful they seem to find it.
A number of companies are considering ways of further expanding the notion of flextime. One alternative, called weekly balancing, lets employees set their own hours day-to-day as long as the weekly total stays constant. In Europe, some companies offer monthly and yearly balancing. Clearly, this is most difficult to do in situations where production processes require a predictable level of staffing.
In November 1988, Eastman Kodak announced a new work-schedule program that permits four kinds of alternative work arrangements:
1. Permanent changes in regular, scheduled hours.
2. Supervisory flexibility in adjusting daily schedules to accommodate family needs.
3. Temporary and permanent part-time schedules at all levels.
4. Job sharing.
Aetna Life and Casualty also recently launched an internal marketing effort and training program to help its supervisors adapt to, plan for, and implement unconventional work schedules.
Employees also must assume new roles. In the job-sharing program at Rolscreen Company, for example, employees are responsible for locating compatible partners for a shared job and for ensuring that the arrangement works and that business needs are met.8 Also, employees are often expected to make themselves available when business emergencies arise. In the best flexible arrangements, employers and employees work as partners.
Studies show that a third to half of women with young children want to work less than full time for at least a while, despite the loss of pay and other benefits. Yet we have found in our work with dozens of companies that managers at all levels show firm resistance to part-time work. They seem to regard the 40-hour week as sacred and cannot imagine that anyone working fewer hours could be doing anything useful. Even in companies that accept the need for part-time work, we see managers who refuse to believe it will work in their own departments. Indeed, even the term “part-time” seems to have a negative connotation.
Research on part-time productivity is sometimes hard to interpret, but the studies we’ve seen indicate that the productivity of part-time workers is, in certain cases, better than their full-time counterparts and, in all cases, no worse. One study comparing part-time and full-time social workers found that, hour for hour, the part-time employees carried greater caseloads and serviced them with more attention.9
Part-time is not necessarily the same as half-time, as many managers assume. Many parents want 4-day or 30-hour workweeks. Many other assumptions about less than full-time employment are also unwarranted. For example, managers often insist that customers will not work with part-time employees, but few have asked their customers if this is true. Another axiom is that supervisory and managerial personnel must always be full-time, because it is a manager’s role to “be there” for subordinates. This article of faith ignores the fact that managers travel, attend meetings, close their doors, and are otherwise unavailable for a good part of every week.
It takes a lot of ingenuity and cultural adaptability to devise meaningful part-time work opportunities and to give employees individual control of their working hours. But an even greater challenge is to find ways of fitting these flexible arrangements into long-term career paths. If the price of family responsibility is a label that reads “Not Serious About Career,” frustrations will grow. But if adaptability and labor-market competitiveness are the goals, then the usual definition of fast-track career progression needs modification.
The first step, perhaps, is to find ways of acquiring broad business experience that are less disruptive to the family. For example, Mobil Oil has gradually concentrated a wide range of facilities at hub locations, partly in order to allow its employees a greater variety of work experience without relocation.
Another essential step is to reduce the tendency to judge productivity by time spent at work. Nothing is more frustrating to parents than working intensely all day in order to pick up a child on time, only to be judged inferior to a coworker who has to stay late to produce as much. For many hardworking people, hours certainly do translate into increased productivity. Not for all. And dismissing those who spend fewer hours at the workplace as lacking dedication ignores the fact that virtually all employees go through periods when their working hours and efficiency rise or fall, whether the cause is family, health, or fluctuating motivation.
Fertility in the United States is below replacement levels. Moreover, the higher a woman’s education level, the more likely she is to be employed and the less likely to have children. The choice to have a family is complex, yet one study shows that two-thirds of women under 40 who have reached the upper echelons in our largest companies and institutions are childless, while virtually all men in leadership positions are fathers.10 If we fail to alter the messages and opportunities we offer young men and women and if they learn to see a demanding work life as incompatible with a satisfying family life, we could create an economy in which more and more leaders have traded family for career success.
There are four steps a company needs to take in order to create an environment where people with dependents can do their best work without sacrificing their families’ welfare:
• Develop a corporate policy that it communicates to all its employees;
• Train and encourage supervisors to be adaptable and responsible;
• Give supervisors tools and programs to work with;
• Hold all managers accountable for the flexibility and responsiveness of their departments.
The key people in all this are first-line managers and supervisors. All the policies and programs in the world don’t mean much to an employee who has to deal with an unsupportive boss, and the boss is often unsupportive because of mixed signals from above.
We have seen companies where the CEO went on record in support of family flexibility but where supervisors were never evaluated in any way for their sensitivity to family issues. In one company, managers were encouraged to provide part-time work opportunities, yet head-count restrictions reckoned all employees as full-time. In another, maternity leave was counted against individual managers when measuring absenteeism, a key element in their performance appraisals. As a general rule, strict absenteeism systems designed to discourage malingerers often inadvertently punish the parents of young children. Yet such systems coexist with corporate admonitions to be flexible. Where messages are mixed and performance measurement has not changed since the days of the “give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” personnel policy, it is hardly surprising that supervisors and managers greet lofty family-oriented policy statements with some cynicism.
Training is critical. IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Warner-Lambert have all established training programs to teach managers to be more sensitive to work-and-family issues. The training lays out the business case for flexibility, reviews corporate programs and policies, and presents case studies that underline the fact that there are often no right answers or rule books to use as guides in the complicated circumstances of real life.
Perhaps the thorniest issue facing businesses and managers is that of equity. Most managers have been trained to treat employees identically and not to adjudicate the comparative merits of different requests for flexibility. But what equity often means in practice is treating everyone as though they had wives at home. On the other hand, it is difficult to set up guidelines for personalized responses, since equity is a touchstone of labor relations and human resource management. Judging requests individually, on the basis of business and personal need, is not likely to lead to identical outcomes.
Seniority systems also need rethinking. Working second or third shift is often the only entry to a well-paying job for nonprofessional employees, but for a parent with a school-age child, this can mean not seeing the child at all from weekend to weekend. Rotating shifts wreak havoc with child-care arrangements and children’s schedules. Practices that worked fine when the labor force consisted mostly of men with wives at home now have unintended consequences.
Finally, the message top management sends to all employees is terribly important. In focus groups at various large companies, we hear over and over again a sense that companies pay lip service to the value of family and community but that day-to-day practice is another story altogether. We hear what we can only describe as a yearning for some tangible acknowledgment from top management that family issues are real, complex, and important.
Johnson & Johnson, which sees its 40-year-old corporate credo as central to its culture, recently added the statement, “We must be mindful of ways to help our employees fulfill their family obligations.” Du Pont has developed a mission statement that commits it, in part, to “making changes in the workplace and fostering changes in the community that are sensitive to the changing family unit and the increasingly diverse work force.” (See the Exhibit.)
Exhibit: Companies That Lead the Way (Located at the end of this article)
Throughout Europe, governments have required companies to treat the parenting of babies as a special circumstance of employment and have invested heavily in programs to support the children of working parents. In this country, recent surveys indicate almost universal popular support for parental leave. But our instincts oppose government intervention into internal business practices. We leave decisions about flexibility and the organization of work to individual companies, which means that the decisions of first-line managers in large part create our national family policy.
In this, the United States is unique. But then we are also unique in other ways, including the depth of our commitment to business, to fairness, to equal opportunity, to common sense. Many of our young women now strive to become CEOs. No one intended that the price for business success should be indifference to family or that the price of having a family should be to abandon professional ambition.
1. Joseph Pleck, “Family-Supportive Employer Policies and Men’s Participation,” Wheaton College (1989), unpublished paper.
2. From research conducted by Ellen Galinsky at Merck and Company, Rahway, New Jersey, 1983, 1984, and 1986.
3. Terry Bond, Employer Supports for Child Care, report for the National Council of Jewish Women, Center for the Child, New York (August 1988).
4. Marcy Whitebook, Carollee Howes, and Deborah Phillips, “Who Cares: Child Care Teachers and the Quality of Care in America,” National Child Care Staffing Study, Child Care Employee Project, Oakland, California (1989).
5. “On-site Child Care Results in Low Turnover at Computer Firm,” National Report on Work and Family, vol. 2, no. 13 (Washington, D.C.: Buraff Publications, June 9, 1989): 3.
6. Dianne Burden and Bradley Googins, Boston University Balancing Job and Homelife Study (Boston: Boston University School of Social Work, 1986).
7. Kathleen Christensen, A Look at Flexible Staffing and Scheduling in U.S. Corporations (New York: Conference Board, 1989); and Jon L. Pierce et al., Alternative Work Schedules (Newton, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon, 1988).
8. Work and Family: A Changing Dynamic (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs Special Report, 1986): 78–80.
9. Part-Time Social Workers in Public Welfare (New York: Catalyst, 1971), cited in Alternative Work Schedules, p. 81.
10. The Corporate Woman Officer (Chicago, Ill.: Heidrick and Struggles, Inc., 1986); Korn/Ferry International’s Executive Profile: Corporate Leaders in the Eighties (New York: Korn/Ferry International, 1986).
Exhibit: Companies That Lead the Way
For years, IBM has steadily increased its efforts to adapt to family needs. It pioneered child-care and elder-care assistance programs. A national resource and referral service network originally put together for IBM in 1984 now serves about 900,000 employees of more than 35 national companies. In 1988, IBM expanded its flextime program to allow employees to adjust their workdays by as much as two hours in either direction and adopted an extended leave-of-absence policy permitting up to a three-year break from full-time employment with part-time work in the second and third years. The company has also been experimenting with work-at-home programs. And earlier this year, it introduced family-issues sensitivity training for more than 25,000 managers and supervisors.
Johnson & Johnson recently announced an extremely broad work-and-family initiative that includes support for elder care and child care, greater work-time flexibility, management training, and a change in its corporate credo.
AT&T recently negotiated a contract with two of its unions that established a dependent-care referral service and provides for leaves of up to one year, with guaranteed reinstatement, for new parents and for workers with seriously ill dependents.
At NCNB, a program called Select Time allows employees at all levels in the company, including managers, to reduce their time and job commitments for dependent-care purposes without cutting off current and future advancement opportunities.
Apple Computer operates its own employee-staffed child-care center and gives “baby bonuses” of $500 to new parents. Du Pont has helped to establish child-care centers in Delaware with contributions of money and space. Eastman Kodak has adopted new rules permitting part-time work, job sharing, and informal situational flextime.
For reasons partly societal and partly strategic, these and scores of other businesses are building work environments that let people give their best to their jobs without giving up the pleasures and responsibilities of family life.
Fran Sussner Rodgers and Charles Rodgers are principals of Work/Family Directions, Inc., which manages dependent-care programs and consults on issues related to the changing labor force.