Small business owners know that things don't always go as planned, and the same is true for their employees. Even the family responsibilities that we can plan for sometimes require a balancing act: nearly two-thirds of American women with a 1-year-old child are in the labor force, and approximately 16.8 million adults over 55 years of age provide unpaid care for elderly loved ones. That's why workplace flexibility policies that allow employees to balance the demands of work and home are vitally important − especially paid sick days, paid parental leave and flexible scheduling.
These policies also give employers a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent, increase employee creativity, increase productivity, increase profitability, and boost employee morale.
Many large companies have made headlines when offering workplace flexibility policies (Netflix, Google and Microsoft to name a few), but flexible workplace policies are good for small businesses, too.
During National Work and Families Month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Labor Department are supporting businesses' efforts to make the country's workplaces more fair and family-friendly by creating a Workplace Flexibility Toolkit. It's full of helpful tips and ideas to help small businesses implement smart workplace flexibility policies.
Small businesses all over the country already are reaping the benefits of such policies:
"Years ago my husband, John, and I decided to offer paid sick days to our employees. To the surprise of many small business owners, it was one of the best business decisions we have ever made. Our employee turnover is relatively non-existent and our hiring and training line in the budget is $0." -- Jennifer Kimmich, owner of The Alchemist, a brewery in Vermont
"We've built our business by trying to treat employees well. Providing paid leave is not only the right thing to do, it's good for business, enabling us to recruit and retain great staff." --Dan Gold, owner of Gold International Machinery/LNA Laster Technology, a family business based in Rhode Island
We know that small business owners are the drivers of our nation's economy. They create 2 out of 3 net new private sector jobs, employing about half of the nation's private-sector labor force. It's important for small businesses to have workplace flexibility policies so they can continue to attract the best talent and spark innovation and entrepreneurship.
The SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership and the Labor Department's Women's Bureau have been working together expanding opportunity for women across the country - whether it's with grants to study the feasibility of implementing paid leave programs or the Innovating for Women Business Challenge and Summit. Workplace flexibility is one important way we can make sure women (and men!) can succeed at their jobs and take care of the family members they love.
Share the toolkit with your fellow entrepreneurs and let us know how flexible workplace policies help your business.
Latifa Lyles is the director of the Labor Department's Women's Bureau and Erin Andrew is the assistant administrator women's business ownership at the Small Business Administration