Put a Bib on It

Is your workplace family friendly?


When parents have flexibility at work, they're better employees, and better moms and dads!I recently read Ellen Galinsky’s response to the Yahoo memo regarding their ban on telecommuting, and I wholeheartedly agree with her that “wherever employees work – in the office, at home, or at remote locations, they need to be well managed and engaged in making the company a success.” While she was remarking specifically on telecommuting, I think the issue is really about flexibility in the work place. A workplace that is flexible for parents is one that is going to retain better, more productive employees, and a healthy work/life balance for those employees.

I’ve written before that I enjoy my job and believe it’s better for me to work as opposed to staying home with my son. But what I haven’t really reflected on (until now) is how supportive my employer is of my family life.

Upon returning to work after my maternity leave, I transitioned back to full time work by working four days instead of five, allowing me extra time with my son. I was still able to get my work done. As a mother who breast-fed, I was also concerned about pumping. But I didn’t have to worry: I had a space where I could pump in private as well as no questions asked about the time it took or the frequency.

My son is now 22-months-old and I have been back to working five days a week for over a year. But I still feel that having a work/life balance that I am happy with is important to my employer. If I didn’t feel as supported as I am, I certainly wouldn’t stay.

I would not be effective if I worked from home and literally couldn’t do aspects of my job that require face-to-face interaction (and also, I would totally lose focus). But many parents are quite able and even more productive working from home. Some parents will telecommute, some will work abbreviated hours, some mothers will even bring their young, nursing infants to work with them. Flexibility is key. When you invest in the family of an employee you value, you won’t regret it.

7 thoughts on “Is your workplace family friendly?

  1. I’m a stay-at-home mom right now but when I was working, it was great to have an employer that was flexible. The decision by Yahoo seems so backwards to me. I’ve also recently read some HORROR stories about women trying to find acceptable places to pump while at work.

    http://www.mommyshorts.com/2013/03/the-weird-places-ive-pumped.html – Hopefully it’s not bad blogging etiquette for me to post a link here (it’s not for my blog). Read the comments part of this post, if you dare. You will cringe for sure.

    • Oh, my goodness! Thank you for sharing this… I only go into the office once a week, but I no longer have a designated space so I am always scouting an empty office to pump in, complete with a taped up warning sign that I am pumping within. Everyone is exceedingly accommodating, but I have to say, it seems like there are more smoking lounges in the world than honest-to-goodness lactation rooms. And that is a crazy thing.

  2. And cringe I did. Thanks for that link. It definitely relates. Employers are going to have to be more supportive of families, working mothers specifically or they are going to lose quite talented people. Stairwells are NOT acceptable suggestions for places to pump and honestly, offensive. How is that not obvious?

  3. You truly are lucky to have such an accommodating employer! Once my son started daycare and I needed a place to pump at work I was told that I can use my office, which I share with another coworker, I could use the storage room (a cinder block 4′ x 3′ space lined with shelves and no lock on the door) or I could drive 5 minutes down the road to use another companies storage room. What’s even more is that I was told that I spend too much time in the day pumping (3 times a day for 20 minutes at a time) and that I’d need to come in on the weekends to make it up.

    • Oh my Manda. I am so sorry to hear that. How did you handle it?

      • About where I’m pumping, I choose to go to the other building, and luckily enough a woman over there who was a breastfeeding mama years ago, took pity on me and graciously offers to let me use the conference room, which has a lock on the door.
        About the coming in the weekends, I said no. I told my employer that I thought it was extremely discriminatory and not to mention illegal for them to ask that of me. I started to also keep a log of my hours to show that I routinely get in 40 – even with taking time out of the day to pump. As I’m a salary employee I shouldn’t have to do that, but I do to cover my backside in case I ever need to.
        I’m also looking for a new job so that I won’t have to deal with things like this in the work place anymore.

  4. Wow, Manda, good job sticking up for yourself. That takes guts. Good luck to you in looking for a job meets your needs better.

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