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Better for Business

Advantages of a Family-Friendly Workplace


Across the globe, businesses of all sizes are recognizing that supportive policies and practices increase organizational productivity, while also boosting the physical and emotional health of employees and their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the overlapping lines between work and life, and  provides a unique opportunity to consider how family-friendly options may be incorporated at your business.

Quality of life is why most of our companies and residents choose to call the Central Coast home. Family-friendly workplaces add a critical quality of life component that is not captured by compensation alone. Promoting work-life balance and flexibility allows parents and careers to exist in harmony.

– Loreli Cappel,  Deputy Director of Economic & Community Development for the City of Atascadero


Take a look at some examples in action in SLO county: 



Business Smart

Family-friendly workplaces have a competitive advantage: They are able to attract, motivate and retain employees, improve employee satisfaction, and strengthen productivity. Additionally, research indicates family-friendly employers benefit from reduced employee health care costs, lower absenteeism, and more resilient, happier and healthier employees. (1)

  • 86% of US millennials, who now make up the greatest percentage of our workforce (2), say they are less likely to leave an employer that offers paid parental leave. (3)

  • Work schedule flexibility reduces employee absences by more than 20%. Unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 per year for each salaried employee. (4)

  • Patagonia supports working families by providing on-site child care at its corporate headquarters in Ventura, CA. The company finds that it recovers 91% of calculable costs annually. (5)

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Family-friendly practices allow your employees to invest in their children – your future workforce. Research also shows that the first five years of a child’s life represent a crucial window for healthy development, with long-range impacts that affect all of us. Family-friendly employment can help parents build safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments for young children.


San Luis Obispo County thrives when our children thrive because they are our future citizens, workforce, and leaders.


Employers of every size and industry in every corner of our region can play an important role in ensuring that all children reach their full potential. Even though many employers are not directly involved in raising children, their support for family-friendly workplace practices is good for business and good for San Luis Obispo County.

Childcare is essential to reaching our shared goals of equity, community health and economic recovery. Weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen what’s possible in our business community when it comes to workplace adaptations and accommodations, and we must continue to provide flexibility and accessibility for working parents - our economy depends on it.

– Jim Dantona, President and CEO of SLO Chamber of Commerce

A Challenge and an Opportunity

With a smaller population base and a higher cost of living, it is difficult to recruit and retain talent in San Luis Obispo County. Family-friendly employers have a competitive advantage to attract and keep skilled employees. 


Family-friendly practices can also lead to an increase in job satisfaction and engagement, diversity, employee referrals, and the attraction of the right people to the organization. This is good news for employers concerned about costs associated with implementing such practices.

Society and Families Have and Will Continue to Change

Families have changed dramatically over the past 50 years, yet family-friendly workplace practices have lagged behind. Most US employer policies are based on an outdated model: a two-parent household, with one parent who works outside the home for pay. Today, only 68% of households include two parents, and only 9% of all families (both single-parent and two-parent) have one parent who cares for children full time (7). In 2015, seven-in-ten moms with kids younger than 18 were working, up from 47% in 1975 (8). Not to mention, mothers and fathers are sharing parenting duties more equitably than ever before and same sex couples battle outdated language.  That means the vast majority of families must work in a system that was created for a bygone era.

Your employees may be the primary caregivers for grandchildren, stepchildren, adopted children, or foster children. Families come in all shapes and sizes, so it is helpful to keep in mind to be inclusive of all family structures when designing your suite of family-friendly practices. Another era has emerged because of COVID-19. See our COVID-19 specific information HERE.

Except where a specific legal relationship is defined in law or tax code, the toolkit uses a broad definition of “family” and we encourage you to do the same.


  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health. “The Business Case for Breastfeeding: Steps for Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite.”

  2. Fry, Richard. “Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force.” Pew Research Center. April 11, 2018.

  3. Unum. “Paid family leave ranks as most coveted work perk, Unum finds.” August 9, 2018.

  4. Circadian. 2005. “Absenteeism: The Bottom-Line Killer.” Retrieved from:

  5. Marcario, Rose. “Patagonia’s CEO Explains How To Make On-Site Child Care Pay For Itself.” Fast Company. August 15, 2016.

  6. Craighill, Peyton and Danielle Paquette. “The surprising number of parents scaling back at work to care for kids.” The Washington Post. August 6, 2015.

  7. Wang. Wendy. “The Majority of U.S. Children Still Live in Two-Parent Families.” The Institute for Family Studies. October 4, 2018.,In%20the%20past%20decade%2C%20the%20share%20of%20children%20who%20live,the%20Institute%20for%20Family%20Studies.

  8. Gretchen Livingston and Kristen Bialik. “7 facts about U.S. moms.” Pew Research Center. May 10, 2018.  

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