In a recent interview with BusinessWeek.com, Earl Maxwell, managing partner of Maxwell Locke & Ritter, a 47-person accounting and consulting firm, explains how his firm opened its eyes and hearts to a more family friendly environment.
When Mr. Maxwell ran into an employee in the halls of his office building who explained to him that her mother was taking her two small children to meet their school teachers for the first time, Mr. Maxwell wondered why the employee was not taking her children herself.
As with many employers, Mr. Maxwell felt his firm supported its staff in personal matters, but after the incident, he decided to put into practice a new, more focused emphasis on work/life balance. The firm now begins many meetings with an overhead transparency reminding firm members of the motto: "No success at work is worth a failure at home."
The firm decided to rethink its policies and to make needed changes for all employees, not just employees with small children. More flexible working schedules and a reasonable paid time off benefit for family and personal matters are just two of the new policies the firm incorporated into its daily practices. Mr. Maxwell explains that the new policies did not prevent some quality staff from leaving the firm, but he hopes that this new way of thinking will help the firm retain and attract quality employees from this point on.
"Almost everybody needs a job, and virtually everybody wants to have a life," Mr. Maxwell said. "They ought to be able to have both. It's almost an inalienable right."
For more ideas on family friendly policies, read some of the articles at One Small Step, the Web site of a San Francisco-based nonprofit employer group. You can see what other companies, each with fewer than 400 employees, are doing to incorporate family friendly programs into their corporate culture.