Deb at 8 Hours & a Lunch and Kris, the HR Capitalist have been discussing Family Friendly workplaces. They both bring up great points about being employee friendly, rather than just “employee-with-small-children” friendly. I find myself agreeing with them. But, then I read Confessions of a Community College Dean:
My college is losing yet another wonderful woman employee this week. After trying valiantly to do the two-job-family thing for a while after her son was born, she finally threw in the towel and will stay home. It’s a real loss for us. She’s very good at what she does, and we’ll have to bring in someone new who – even if good – brings a learning curve. In the meantime, her position will remain open a few months to save money. Some will do unpaid overwork to compensate, and some work will just slip through the cracks. This is how decisions get made.
The Wife and I did the two-job-family thing for several years, as my regular readers know. Even when she went to reduced hours, the day-to-day stress level was beyond belief. Life become little more than time management. And in some ways, we had it as good as it got: we could just afford a pretty good daycare center (with webcams), we worked (mostly) regular hours, and her parents were close by enough that they could be our emergency backup system when The Boy got sick and couldn’t go in. Even with all that, it was just too hard.
Now, regular readers know, I’m a big believer that choices have consequences. They do. And no one else should be responsible for my choices.
But, what if you’re Dean Dad and your desperately trying to hang on to a woman (or man, but in my experience it’s always almost the woman) who is trying to balance work and family. He notes that in his own family the “stress level was beyond belief.” Kids, daycare, two full time jobs.
I couldn’t do it. Well, re-wind. I wouldn’t choose to do it.
My company wanted to keep me. So, I was able to negotiate a part time position for two years and now I’m in a job share. (Job shares and part time are very different. Someday I’ll write about that.) My husband’s company offers on site daycare, which means that the Offspring goes to work with him on the days I’m in the office. She’s across the parking lot, not across town.
Family friendly? You bet. Benefits that childless workers wouldn’t need or want? You bet. (Although many childless friends have said, “I want to work part time” but when push comes to shove, they don’t want the substantial drop in pay, prestige and promotional opportunity. And don’t lie to yourself, the promotional opportunities rightly go away when you aren’t devoting your entire life to the company.)
I’m not advocating this, by the way. I’m just pointing out that choices have consequences. People make choices. Businesses make choices. What set of choices do you want to make?