How to Be a Family-Friendly and Single-Friendly Workplace

You want to attract and retain productive employees in this job-seeker’s market. Should you offer family-friendly benefits and working conditions? Absolutely. But don’t take for granted your employees without children. It’s important to make sure you have a single-friendly workplace too.

How to Be a Family-Friendly and Single-Friendly Workplace

Great workers come in all forms. You can make all employees feel important by respecting and acknowledging the value of their time and level of work.

Employees with children appreciate paid parental leave, health insurance for family members and flexibility. Many workplaces are getting better at helping parents reduce stress and enhance productivity.

But sometimes employers have a blind spot. Their employees without children might feel their time is not as valued as those with children.

Here are some dos and don’ts for making sure your employees who are not parents feel valued:

  • Do give your employees with no children the same consideration as parents when weighing requests for time off during a workday, flexible hours, change in scheduled hours, etc.
  • If you allow parents to take a couple hours off for children’s school activities, sporting events or doctor visits, do allow all employees to take chunks of time off for appointments. One possible approach: When employees request time away, don’t ask them the reason.
  • If you don’t expect parents to make up time missed for a child’s event, then don’t expect nonparents to make up time lost due to an appointment.
  • Don’t assign undesirable work hours such as weekends, late nights, holidays and travel to childless employees more often than parents.
  • Do give all your employees an equal opportunity to schedule vacation at prime times such as holidays. Follow up by making sure co-workers aren’t pressuring childless employees to trade vacation times with them. (This can be tricky, but it’s important.)

Related Reading: Trendy Employee Perks

  • If an employee, whether a parent or not, consistently puts in more “above and beyond” time than others, do show appreciation and reward them accordingly.
  • Do consider developing a generous paid time off (PTO) arrangement instead of separate sick and vacation days. PTO banks with days that can be rolled over or cashed out can work well for all employees: Parents can use PTO when their child is sick, and any employees who do not use all their PTO could cash out or roll over some of their unused days. PTO banks that are too skimpy, however, are not as helpful because some employees won’t take vacation time for fear of having no PTO left when they or their children are ill.
  • Do consider offering sabbaticals to provide flexibility in time off. Every employee could take a sabbatical for an approved purpose, such as a life learning activity, allowing employees to pursue their personal interests.
  • Do consider offering a cafeteria-style benefits plan that gives each employee the same amount of money to select benefits or cash. A person selecting employee-only health coverage would have more money available for cash or additional benefits.

Employees want to be treated fairly. They want to feel valued, no matter their family situation. Top employers work toward a culture where all employees pull together as a team and each is valued for his or her own contributions.

Lois Gleason, CEBS
E-Learning/Online Course Instructional Designer at the International Foundation


Developed by International Foundation Online Learning staff. This does not constitute legal advice. Please consult your plan professionals for legal advice.


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Lois Gleason, CEBS

E-Learning/Online Course Instructional Designer at the International Foundation Favorite Foundation service/product: Employee Benefits Survey (conducted every two years; it is very comprehensive). Benefits-related topic top picks: Affordable Care Act compliance, state of America’s costly health care system, multiemployer pension plan issues, retirement decumulation strategies. Favorite things about working at the Foundation: My co-workers and how much they care about their work. I also love, love, love all the windows in our office and their beautiful views of trees and sky. Personal Insight: I am constantly reading. I can relate to the human flaws, strengths and silly inconsistencies represented in the characters of classic novels like Middlemarch, Jane Eyre, North and South, and A Tale of Two Cities. Every morning at breakfast I read the daily newspapers…. yes, I still get the paper versions because it’s no big deal if a little coffee spills on them.

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