The competitive advantage of family-friendly workplaces

Annica Moore and Susanna Mikkonen

Chairperson and vice chairperson at Mothers in Business


Finland is repeatedly ranked among the top countries in the world in life quality, happiness and education. Families with children are especially well taken care of in Finland, and the welfare system provides families with abundant benefits and support. Finnish mothers get 105 days of paid maternity leave and fathers 54 days of paid paternity leave. The 158-day parental leave can be used by either parent. In addition, Finns are entitled to temporary childcare leave to care for a child under the age of 10 who has unexpectedly fallen ill. Not to mention the free maternity and child health clinics that support the health and wellbeing of families. And have you ever heard of the maternity package?

However, it’s not only the Finnish society that takes care of families. Businesses and organisations likewise are waking up to the benefits of being family-friendly. Although laws and collective agreements guarantee a certain amount of balance between work and family, organisations want to do more.

Family-friendly practices commonly include flexible working hours, possibility to work part-time, remote working, arranging meetings at convenient times and ensuring a smooth return to work from parental leave. Some companies have taken it to the next level and even provide short paid parental leaves for new grandparents, whereas others provide sleep-training courses for sleep-deprived families.

Being family-friendly encompasses the entire organisational culture and manifests itself through empathetic and flexible attitudes towards different life situations. Family-friendly practices benefit not only those with small children, but also for example individuals who care for their elderly parents.

Organisations that have adopted a family-friendly culture believe that balance and wellbeing in everyday life helps employees perform more efficiently and productively at work.

Trusting one’s employees is a key element of becoming family-friendly. For example, employees are free to handle their own affairs while remote working if this doesn’t cause problems in their work. Flexibility in working life is highly appreciated, and, when given such flexibility, people are also ready to flex themselves if and when necessary.

Organisations that have adopted a family-friendly culture believe that balance and wellbeing in everyday life helps employees to perform more efficiently and productively at work. Through family-friendly reforms, employers also get a competitive advantage in recruiting the best workforce.

Up to 92 per cent of the members of Mothers in Business, a Finland-based network for career-oriented mothers, mention family-friendliness as a key factor in selecting new employment. A family-friendly working environment promotes a good working culture, enhances the employer image and brand, and reduces sick leaves. What’s not to like?

Many companies nowadays find themselves in a situation where they are increasingly competing for the best talent. Being family-friendly is one of the most efficient ways to attract and retain the best employees, and to invest in their wellbeing.

Originally published in April 2019

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