Family-Friendly Businesses

Many businesses today struggle to find talented, diverse, and committed employees.

Since the onset of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, many workers, disproportionately women, have been caught between the needs of their families, childcare and virtual schooling, and their careers.

Many women have been forced to leave their jobs, resulting in a dearth of talented and skilled females in the workforce, and a signifcant gap in the job applicant pool. Working families have a lot to juggle, but employers can help make that a little easier by implementing policies and programs that help Hampton Roads’ residents balance both family and work.

Listen to the ThinkHIRE podcast powered by The Hampton Roads Workforce Council: Reversing the Great She-Cession featuring our own Dr. Jane E. Glasgow and our partners from HRWFC, Shawn Avery and Christina Brooks.

Our Family-Friendly Business Toolkit provides businesses with ideas, knowledge and resources to advance early childhood outcomes while supporting one of their most valualbe assets -- their employees.

Download the toolkit

Understanding your employee's needs

Two-thirds of employees would leave their job for another that offered better work-life benefts. Team members are typically a business’s largest investment and by understanding and responding to their needs, companies can retain their employees.

Employers can fnd out more about the specifc needs of their employees in a variety of ways.

  • Survey your workforce on their work-family needs annually
  • Host a series of informal meetings or focus groups where working families can share their needs, challenges, and ideas
  • Educate employees on available benefts and establish connection to local resources
  • Include employees in discussions about the benefits offered and how these benefits might better serve them

Family-friendly practices and policies

There are a number of practices and policies that employers can consider, depending on the needs of your employees. Research indicates that family-friendly workplaces see benefits of increased productivity, company loyalty, and happier and healthy employees, resulting in employee retention and less employee absenteeism.

By offering benefits that support physical and mental health, businesses can contribute to financial stability and well-being of employees and their families. Benefit offerings could include:

  • Health, Dental and Vision Insurance: Even if you already provide these benefits, consider adjustments that allow employees lower premiums, lower co-pays, or smaller deductibles. Employees may put off appointments or necessary care due to cost.
  • Short Term Disability Insurance: Provides financial help to employees who are temporarily out of work due to illness, injury, or pregnancy and helps to maintain financial stability for the employee and family.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): Provides employees with access to free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, and referral to follow-up services for personal or work-related concerns, including stress, grief, family problems, substance abuse or other challenges.
  • Sick Leave, Personal Leave and Paid Time Off: Adjust leave policies to better meet the needs of working parents. Employees who are parents are challenged by caring for sick children, school closures, and other events like parent-teacher conferences, athletic events, or school activities.
  • Vacation Leave: Vacation time allows employees the time to recharge and rest, spend time with their family, and reduce stress. Employers who provide and encourage use of vacation time report increased productivity and reduction of turnover, and a decrease in workers’ compensation claims and health care costs.

Building a culture of flexibility is one strategy that employers find to be effective in employee retention and improving productivity.

A variety of flexible time options can be implemented so employees can more easily balance parenting and their work, while benefiting the employer, too.

  • Flex time: Allowing employee to create their own work schedule can be helpful in allowing them to balance work tasks and family needs.
  • Telecommuting or remote work location: Allowing employees to work from their home or other remote location instead of the traditional office setting.
  • Job sharing/part-time work: Dividing job responsibilities into two part-time positions, allowing two employees to work together to fill one position.
  • Predictable scheduling: Establishing a reliable or set schedule will help employees to find consistent childcare. If a predictable schedule is not feasible, allowing early notifcation of schedules will allow employees time to accommodate childcare needs.
  • Parental involvement leave: Providing parental involvement leave can provide parents with an opportunity to attend children’s school events like plays, sports, or parent-teacher conferences easily.
  • Breastfeeding policies and supports: Provide private space and breaks for pumping and storing breast milk. Understand the federal laws that may be applicable to your business that allows for break time for nursing mothers.

Boosting the bottom line for families

Salaries are important, but so are other benefits you can offer to your employees to ensure they are keeping the most money in their pockets. There are several ways that you can help employees boost their bottom line. Using tax-advantaged strategies helps employees maximize their dollars.

  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA): Creating a Flexible Spending Account option allows parents to use pre-tax dollars to reimburse themselves for certain out-of-pocket childcare expenses with dollars saved pre-tax.
  • Tax and Childcare Subsidy Eligibility: Educate employees about their tax credit and childcare subsidy eligibility, connecting them with resources for maximizing these benefits. Learn more about childcare subsidies on the Virginia Department of Education's website.
  • Contribute to or subsidize childcare: Employers can contribute funds toward each employee’s childcare needs without the subsidy being added to their taxable income or the employer having to pay payroll taxes because it is not income.
  • Tax Credits: Consult a tax professional to provide specifc guidance on these tax-related strategies and the implications for your organization. Tax credits may be available to you based on the benefits you offer.

Help employees access childcare

New parents have a lot of things to think about and many don’t realize looking for childcare needs to start very early, often as soon as they find out they are pregnant!

The waiting lists for infant and toddler care are very long and it can take months to secure a space. Further, knowing what to look for when visiting childcare centers can be confusing. Helping parents access childcare that meets their needs can make for more productive employees.

Provide parents with information on how to secure childcare by sharing the following:

  • Childcare Aware of Virginia provides comprehensive, up-to-date information about childcare in Virginia at including:
    • Resource and Referral options located near you
    • What to look for in childcare
    • Types of childcare
    • Questions to ask when exploring childcare options
    • Financial assistance -Family resources
  • 1-866- KIDSTLC Ext. 2 provides person-to-person information
  • Low-cost or no-cost to family childcare options may be available based on family income and other factors.
    • Local information can be found at
      • Early Head Start/Head Start (8 weeks to age 5)
      • Virginia Preschool Initiative (4-year olds)
      • Hampton Roads Mixed Delivery Collaborative (3 and 4-year olds)