Amy Potthast | Instructional Coach & Designer | Learning Design Studios

Happier families and better bottom lines

Report by Monica Wirtz, of Metropolitan Family Service.

How flexible work options benefit business and family

Read the full discussion summary for poignant stories, innovative ideas about how business and family can work in tandem to create family-friendly workplaces and a strong economy, helpful resources, and why it is important to advocate for policy change now.

Special thanks to Jesse Remer Henderson and Nick Henderson for hosting this agog discussion!


The existing U.S. workplace model wreaks havoc for today’s families and impedes our nation’s ability to compete on the global scale. Happy families and better bottom lines don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, for our nation to succeed, they can’t be.

It’s not a personal problem. Over one-third of today’s workforce is considered the “working poor” and nearly 70% of American households are dual-career, meaning at least two adults are working in order to make ends meet. Americans are working harder and longer hours with few laws to support them, and the laws that do exist have gaping holes.

It is clear that modern, family-friendly policies are needed. Both informal and formal policies can support employees. Informal support includes giving employees more control over their schedule and the freedom to ask their supervisor for a day off or to work from home without spoken or unspoken discrimination or retaliation. Based on a recently published study conducted by Dr. Hammer, workers who had supportive supervisors – those who were knowledgeable of and encouraged the use of policies and genuinely created a culture of workplace flexibility – reported an increased level of job satisfaction, decreased intention to leave, decreased attrition and absenteeism, and increased self-reported physical health.

Policy changes are even more essential for low-wage workers. Many low-income working parents do not work for organizations that embrace family-friendly work environments. These lower paying jobs often have inflexible work schedules with rigid policies regarding time off and are without eligibility for protected leave and other benefits.

People want employers to realize that employees have a “whole life” and that work-family balance is important. On-site or subsidized quality day care, paid maternity/parental leave without career consequences, work for productivity, flexible time off, seasonally adjustable work schedules and expanding the definition of family to include older adults were just some of the  workplace changes suggested by the group that would better support their ability to care for their families while contributing to or expanding their role in the workforce.

Read the full summary for more great ideas and resources!

Metropolitan Family Service programs help more than 33,000 children, families and older adults every year. Many of the parents we help are low-income, single parents of multiple children who are struggling with work/family issues.
The information we learn from agog discussions is shared widely and helps us provide the highest quality of services possible.
A Gathering of Good (agog)is a series of community events promoting discussion, civic engagement and social change.  


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