Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

There’s a fascinating cover story in the latest issue of HR Magazine entitled, ‘Are you too family friendly?Baby_2

The article asks if, in light of political correctness, employers have gone overboard in granting too many perks and privileges to employees with children. According to the article, a growing number of childless workers are saying flex schedules and other concessions made to working moms and dads are unfair, if not, discriminatory.

It’s a slippery slope since publications like Fortune routinely include such benefits as a prerequisite to being named to their ‘Most Admired’ list. In our own industry, The Holmes Report in particular lavishes praise on family-friendly workplaces in its annual survey.

HR Magazine says the childless perks pushback is only going to grow. One in four American households now consist of a single, childless person (and there are now 92 million single or childless citizens 18 years of age and older).

So, what’s an employer to do? One HR expert suggests a cafeteria-type benefits offering from which employees can choose to best meet their personal needs. That sounds fair to me.

It’s a genuine image and reputation conundrum for every organization. In our rush to meet the needs of employees with children, we’ve unconsciously overlooked the single/childless workforce. However enlightened such organizations may seem, the fact is, they’re not.

It’s time that Fortune, The Holmes Report and other publications wake up to this new trend and factor a ‘balanced’ benefits program into their annual rankings.

4 thoughts on “Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

  1. Perhaps. But, beauty (or pain in this case) is in the eye of the beholder. Clearly, a lot of single/childless people see flextime as inherently unfair. And that’s why HR Magazine made it a cover story topic.

  2. I still think its making a mountain out of a molehill because it doesn’t look at the bigger picture. Based upon my experience, childless couples often have a higher standard of living due to their relatively unfettered freedom in pursuing their careers coupled with the lack of expense due to children. This means nicer houses, nicer cars, and nicer (and often more frequent) vacations. They have flexibility they don’t realize by being able to work unusual (or long) hours more readily, travel for business without worrying about who’s taking care of the kids, and even relocate more easily to accommodate job opportunities. I think when you take these into account, the hours that some working parents have to take during the day to accommodate ad hoc needs for their children–or even those flexibilities that are negotiated with bosses–seems picayune.

  3. Thanks for the feedback, CapComm. I don’t disagree that ‘system abusers’ need to be shut down. But, the HR Magazine article makes a compelling case for single/childless workers who are, in fact, being taken advantage of by the system. Not saying it happens everywhere, but the single/childless employees need a voice in workplace.

  4. Steve:
    I really disagree with you on this one. The issue is not childless individuals vs. parents but it is instead (and as always) about those who abuse the system–about those who are given an inch and take a mile. I have three kids at home, and my wife and I have chosen to put my career before hers because I have the strongest earning ability of the two of us. As such she works part-time, and when there are child issues to be dealt with that conflict with work, my wife makes them a priority for her and my priority is getting in to work. There are those out there, however, who insist upon using every benefit at their disposal, whether or not they need to. They work from home on a frequent basis, leave work early for every doctor appointment, have to duck out ‘cuz the kid called from school with a headache, etc. In short, they use their children as an excuse for working a more flexible schedule instead of working their children’s lives around their professional schedule (within reason, of course) or sharing responsibilities with a spouse or other caregiver.