Family-responsive workplaces benefit employees and companiesStories /29 July 2019
Employers can increase worker productivity by implementing and promoting family-friendly policies for both women and men, the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) said, as it launched a new study funded by Investing in Women.
“The family-related concerns of employees directly impact on the levels of productivity of employees, particularly on their retention, career advancement and work performance,” PMAP said in a study presented at its Annual Conference in Cebu City 19 July.
The study builds evidence of the triple benefits of family-responsive workplaces. Employees get the opportunity to work toward work-life balance, increasing their productivity at work, to the advantage of companies. Families will also benefit from a more equal engagement of women and men in the home.
The Philippines is a leader in gender equality, but women are still underrepresented in formal employment and undertaking most of the caring and domestic work. There is research suggesting this is partly because of social norms that keep women out of the workplace and men out of the home.
The PMAP study shows that businesses that support employees with family responsibilities can directly contribute to addressing these barriers to women’s economic empowerment, by helping women and men balance their careers and families.
It also urged companies to move away from the mindset that only women have caring roles and to be “inclusive in the development of family-responsive programs because men and women, married and single, are all concerned and have responsibilities over their families in varying ways.”
Both women and men in the PMAP survey indicated demand for mechanisms that help them balance between work and family roles. These mechanisms include vacation leave, sick leave, good compensation, family health insurance and flexible schedule.
Respondents however reported low take-up of vacation and sick leave, even as they listed those as the benefits most relevant to family life. PMAP encouraged companies to “review policies on various leave options and keep track of their usage to ensure they serve their purpose.”
‘Hard metrics’ needed
Take-up of leave is not the only data that companies should generate. PMAP said the study, titled “Employee Perceptions of a Family-Friendly Workplace and their Productivity,” is based primarily on a survey of 384 employees of member firms and would have to be validated by company data.
PMAP encouraged its members to assess their family-friendliness by developing a set of relevant human resource metrics, including how many of their employees have caring roles, the number of dependents reported by their workers and who these dependents are—partners, parents or children.
One of the ways to develop these metrics is through a participatory gender audit, with PMAP saying that caring responsibilities most often fall on women and gender-inclusive family-friendly policies provide an opportunity for employers to shift these dynamics and engage women employees.
A gender audit will help companies be “more responsive to the needs of both female and male employees and to ensure equal access to opportunities for growth and development in the workplace,” PMAP said in its study.
PMAP Executive Director Rene Gener reiterated the call for companies to undertake a gender audit at the conference plenary for the launch of the study. “We need policies guided by research. PMAP has done its part through this study; members need to complement it with their data,” he said.
Members were also encouraged to help develop of a roadmap for family-friendly workplaces. PMAP distributed a signup sheet at the plenary session attended by more than 1,400 conference participants, including PMAP officials.
Building the business case
To demonstrate PMAP’s commitment to creating family-responsive workplaces, Gener announced that the organisation is keen to incorporate family-friendliness as a criterion for the Employer of the Year Awards, a set of prizes given to one company per year for excellence in people management.
Gener’s statement echoed that of PMAP President Gerry Plana, who, speaking at an event leading up to the launch of the study, said: “The challenge of HR is to create better workplaces, and central to that is creating family-friendly workplaces.”
He added that HR entails “a fascination for people and their potential,” including their motivations for working, which for most Filipinos is their family. “Understanding what family-responsive means to our people will help us answer the question ‘Where is the H in HR?’” Plana said.
In discussions, PMAP members said findings of the study will help start conversations with top management about family-friendly policies. They agreed, however, that the study also highlights knowledge gaps in workplace gender equality, including the need for stronger HR metrics.
Responding to these comments, Plana called on PMAP members to build the business case for responding to employees’ family needs. “The challenge falls on us to look for or develop the evidence base we need for advocating to top management about family-friendly workplaces,” he said.