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Private industry crafts sound family policy.

Private businesses may be more willing to participate in family-oriented benefit programs now that many private industry leaders are showing that these programs make sound business policy with the bottom line in mind. In 1990, the Council on Competitiveness, a coalition of business, labor, and academic interests, asserted that family benefit programs are not just the social conscious thing to do.

An article titled "Family-Oriented Policies Become Competitiveness Advantage," appearing in the Council's May 1990 newsletter, Challenges, sand the praises of many family-oriented policies and lauded a few corporations for their leading efforts.

Flexible Scheduling

Hewlett Packard was an early pioneer of using flextime, the most popular of flexible work arrangements in the United States. Flexible work arrangements make the standard work schedule less rigid and can reduce company overtime costs, decrease turnover, tardiness and absenteeism, improve morale and productivity, and provide greater opportunity to retain good workers on a part- or full-time basis. Although supervision becomes more complicated, a 1988 competitiveness Conference Board Survey revealed highest marks for these arrangements and their effect on employee performance.

Family Leave

Both IBM and AT&T have adopted family leave policies which display an increased awareness of the importance of family. AT&T allows up to one year of family leave for either father or mother after the birth or adoption of a child. At IBM, following the three years of allowed unpaid leave for the same reason, an employee can return to several flexible work options (such as part-time work).

Retention of quality workers is one good reason for instituting more flexible family leave policies. The Council reports that DuPont lengthened maternity leaves and allowed more flexible work schedules after discovering that one-fourth of its male and one-half of its female employees had considered seeking another employer who could offer them more flexibility to deal with family responsibilities.

Dependent Care SAS Institute, Inc., a North Carolina software firm, provides on-site day care at no cost to its employees. SAS reports its turnover rate as less than half the industry average and justifies the extra expense of the center in the saving of money required to train new workers. IBM and AT&T show a similar commitment to child care and take advantage of their corporate presence in local communities by contributing several million dollars to support community-wide dependent care efforts.

The attention paid to these corporate efforts in a forum whose primary audience includes Chief Executive Officers of industry itself shows that all parties increasingly understand the benefits of family-oriented employee policy.

For more information on the Council on Competitiveness and its publications, write the Council at 900 17th St., N.W., Washington D.C., 20006.
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Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 9, 1992
Words:445
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