The societal benefits of reconciling work and family life

Families are not separate entities in relation to work life and the rest of the society. Family is a personal source of strength and a pillar of everyday life for many people. That is why practices at workplaces and family-friendly working culture have direct and indirect effects on society as a whole:

  • careers
  • productivity
  • natality
  • well-being of families
  • demographic trends

Dividing work contributions during the career in a way that makes work flexible when needed is a good solution for families, employers and society as a whole. Work and the securing of livelihood outside home is important for people in different stages of life, people of working age and those who take care of family members.

Practices and functional guidelines for this are highlighted especially when there is competition for workforce. A family-friendly and flexible employer has a competitive advantage when:

  • recruiting new personnel
  • supporting the well-being of existing personnel
  • also in situations where the company has been forced to make personnel cuts. 

Preserving working ability and demographic trends

Methods for reconciling work and family life bring increased well-bring at work and improved working ability. At the same time, they help to preserve natality at an adequate yearly level.

Parents think that more societal efforts are needed in family politics to support reconciling work and family life. This means especially:

1)     making part-time work possible

2)     flexible working hours and

3)     flexible parental leave arrangements.

Reconciling work and family life in hectic life situations

Any person may need flexibility and practices supporting everyday life at some point. In addition to families with children, about 20 percent of work force in Europe lives under circumstances where he/she is taking care of a close relative. As the population gets older, these situations will become more common in Finland and in Europe in general.

Shift work as well as long or exceptional/atypical working hours may pose challenges for people. Parents have to arrange day care/ night care for children or afternoon care for school children. Personal errands and family holidays as well as other everyday arrangements may need extra flexibility at work. Especially challenging is shift work for families with only one parent.

Career steps and the development of expertise often occur in the same years when the family is expanding.

With fewer persons of working age in Europe in becoming years and decades, the work efforts of every person (also as part-time worker, and carried out by people with partial working ability) is needed.