sealPurdue News

August 1998

Businesses can profit from family-friendly policies

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Family-friendly employee benefits are becoming popular and profitable.

Shelley MacDermid, director of the Center for Families at Purdue University and of the Midwestern Work-Family Association, says workplace practices that help employees take care of family responsibilities benefit the employees affected, as well as co-workers and the company's bottom line.

"When employees come to work stressed out by family needs, they may be less productive," she says. Companies have found that work-family programs improve employee recruitment, retention, productivity and loyalty -- factors that she says can affect business profits.

Among work-family policies, businesses most frequently provide child care benefits. A survey by five major U.S. corporations found that 82 percent of working parents had missed days at work, arrived late, left early or had to use work time to deal with child-care problems. "Statistics show the average company with 250 employees can save $75,000 per year in lost work time by subsidizing care for employees' sick children," MacDermid says.

She says employers can pick and choose from many child-care benefit options including everything from child-care vouchers to on-site day care. The results can be as individual as each company. MacDermid offers tips to employers who would like to find out what benefits would work best for their employees:

  • Evaluate the current situation -- assess company goals and problem areas.
  • Marshal support from management -- educate managers on the business benefits of work-family programs.
  • Form a task force -- the committee should include employees from all company levels and workers who have child-care needs.
  • Assess employees' needs -- use surveys or focus groups to find out employee priorities and preferences. "Find out what employees see as the barriers to them doing their job well," MacDermid says.
  • Identify resources and constraints -- look at practices already in place that may be used to meet child-care needs, and know to what extent the company will go in finding and funding solutions.

The Midwestern Work-Family Association is a partnership between the Center for Families at Purdue and Midwestern employers who are interested in work-family issues. The association shares resources and is an advocate for family-friendly policies consistent with business objectives. For more information, call (765) 494-9878.

CONTACT: MacDermid, (765) 494-9878; e-mail,

Compiled by: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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