The Parents At Work organisation, in partnership with UNICEF Australia, has united with industry and community leaders to develop the National Work + Family Standards, represented across six core categories including: flexible work, parental leave, family care, family wellbeing, leadership culture and measurement.
The Standards are designed to enable employers to identify and close gaps in their workplace policy provisions that hold back equality and inclusion progress and impact work life wellbeing. Additionally, the Family Friendly Workplaces certification program measures employers progress against the National Work + Family Standards, providing them with a benchmark of best practice guidelines.
The updated 2023 data set of certified organisations reveals how employers are progressing since the release of the Bridging the Work and Family Divide Report in May 2022, as well as a look at what has shifted and emerging as future trends.
- Flexibility continues to be supported and normalised: Compared to 88 percent in 2021-22, over 95 percent of organisations surveyed in 2022-23 reported providing their employees with guides and training to embed flexible work practices in action across the organisational hierarchy, job types and location. Whilst a majority of these still acknowledge room for continual improvement and intend to focus on further enhancements.
- Paid Parental Leave (PPL) is becoming less gendered: The number of organisations promoting gender equal access to PPL increased by 12 percent, going from 74 percent in 2021-22 to 86 percent in 2022-23. Along those lines, 31 percent of companies have removed reference to primary and secondary carer labels – the number went up 5 percent compared to last year.
- Superannuation on parental leave is increasing: Almost 50 percent of PPL policies provide Superannuation on parental leave, compared to 47 percent last year.
- More parental leave support across the board: 62 percent of companies committed to expanding their support for new and expectant parents by providing return to work coaching, gradual returns, mentorships and other transitional support benefits. And 50 percent are committed to increasing the time an employee can take parental leave beyond 12 months, whilst 87 percent are committed to reviewing and updating their PL policy.
WHAT ARE THE KEY AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT THAT REMAIN A CHALLENGE?
- Caring policies must be formalised and properly communicated: Only one third of organisations formally included caring needs of employees as part of the HR and Diversity and Inclusion agendas.
- More work can be done on mental health and wellbeing policies: 42 percent of companies have no formal family mental health and wellbeing policy.
- More support is needed to meet caring needs: 47 percent of organisations lack provisions of care support in place. Less than 22 percent assist employees with searches or referrals to providers of childcare, disability or aged care services and only 12 percent provide back-up emergency care.
WHAT ARE THE FUTURE TRENDS – WHAT ACTIONS ARE EMPLOYERS TAKING TO IMPROVE?
Leadership is key
More employers are increasingly committed to doing more to educate leaders on the importance of embedding family friendly work practices as part of the organisation’s people and culture diversity and inclusion strategy. There has been a significant increase in the shift to view leaders as critical enablers in driving the cultural change to create more family inclusive workplaces.
Making flexibility work
There has been an increase in the number of employers (68 percent to 81 percent) committed to enhancing their organisational practices to support flexible working. This includes providing examples of flexible work in action and utilising a hybrid or team-based or agile work allocation approach. It is encouraging that whilst many organisations have flexibly work on their agenda already due to Covid they are keeping it in their foresight as an area to continually improve on.
Companies are increasingly supporting Domestic and Family Violence victims. Nearly double (62 percent) the number of employers (compared to last year) are committed to extending the organisation’s Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) policy or framework.
Companies are implementing a structured caregiver policy, broadening access to paid parental leave or expanding existing policy benefits. 56 percent of employers are committed to embedding a formalised carer’s policy or extending current policy provisions. About half of employers are committed to expanding inclusivity of the paid parental leave policy, such as removing primary/secondary carer labels and broadening the definition of family types. 37 percent of employers will expand ways of supporting employees with childcare and other forms of care for employees with caring responsibilities.
Voice of employee and measuring impact
Employers are increasingly seeking feedback from their staff on family-friendly work practices. In fact, 81 percent of employers are committed to seeking increased feedback from employees, while the same percentage is committed to improving how they measure the effectiveness of those practices.
Family friendly workplaces
Benchmarking: As of May 2023, 345 organisations have been benchmarked to National Work + Family Standards. Certification: As of May 2023, 104 are currently in progress or have already been certified.
For more information, visit: https://familyfriendlyworkplaces.com/
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