Family-forward policies will strengthen Kansas economy and communities

May 31, 2023 3:33 am
Women face numerous economic obstacles, including pay inequality, access to affordable child care, limited family leave and entrepreneurship restrictions. (Getty Images)

First 1,000 Days Kansas encourages and supports employers to offer paid leave, flexible scheduling, child care access, and accommodations and support for pregnant and breastfeeding employees. (Getty Images)

Kansas is expected to add more than 11,000 new jobs in 2024. The unemployment rate in Kansas is projected to reach 2.6% in 2024, according to the new Kansas Employment Forecast released this month by Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research.

Under these economic conditions, Kansas businesses will be competing to attract and retain talented employees. They will be looking for ways to stand out from one another. The solution may be as simple as implementing practices that support employees and their families.

Family-forward workplace practices give companies a strong competitive advantage by improving employee retention and recruitment. Offering flexible scheduling and paid leave create a healthy work environment, where employees can prosper. Parents face numerous challenges while balancing work and family life. For instance, 75% percent of U.S. mothers and 50% of U.S. fathers say they have passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit to care for their children. Nearly 40% of parents nationwide say they have left a job because it lacked flexibility.

First 1,000 Days Kansas, an initiative of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, recognizes the correlation between the health of Kansas families and Kansas businesses. That’s why we recently launched a communications campaign to reach Kansas employers and human resources professionals: Family Forward Workplaces.

We encourage and support employers to offer paid leave, flexible scheduling, child-care access, and accommodations and support for pregnant and breastfeeding employees. This improves their competitive edge and contributes to the health of Kansas families and the economy.

Offering family-forward policies can make a significant difference to Kansas businesses’ bottom line. Employers that want to attract and retain talent must prioritize incorporating family-forward practices. It is estimated that up to 5 million more workers would join the U.S. labor force if businesses offered more family-forward benefits, such as paid parental leave. The cost of replacing an employee who leaves is approximately 33% of an employee’s salary.

These policies help businesses reduce expensive turnover costs.

We encourage and support employers to offer paid leave, flexible scheduling, child-care access, and accommodations and support for pregnant and breastfeeding employees. This improves their competitive edge and contributes to the health of Kansas families and the economy.

– Brenda Bandy

Furthermore, affordable child care is essential for working parents. The lack of high-quality child care has a direct effect on businesses, as employers nationwide lose $4.4 billion each year due to employee absences and loss of productivity related to child care issues. Employers can leverage the Child Day Care Business Tax Credit to reduce their taxes, while helping their employees pay for child care.

Employers can also offer Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts, giving employees the option to use pre-tax funds to pay for child care. When workers are able to afford child care, they are more likely to remain at work.

Paid leave is also an essential part of family-forward workplace policies. It allows workers to take time off to care for themselves or a sick family member without financial insecurity. Flexible scheduling enables employees to work around their family’s needs, while breastfeeding accommodations are necessary for mothers returning to work after giving birth.

Family-forward workplace policies benefit both businesses and their employees. They create a positive work environment, improve employee retention and recruitment, and help businesses compete for talent by creating a positive brand image amongst potential recruits.

When it comes to families, these policies strengthen families in several ways. They allow parents to balance their work and family responsibilities more effectively. This, in turn, can reduce stress and lead to improved physical and mental health outcomes for both parents and children. Providing breastfeeding accommodations also allows mothers to continue nursing their babies after returning to work, which improves both maternal and infant health outcomes and foster stronger parent-child bonding.

Additionally, family-forward policies can increase job satisfaction and loyalty, which can ultimately lead to a better quality of life for families overall.

We encourage Kansas businesses to become family-forward workplaces. Kansas’ economy depends on it. Kansas families will be healthier because of it. Together, we can help businesses and families thrive and strengthen our state.

Brenda Bandy serves as the co-executive director of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. Through its opinion section, Kansas Reflector works to amplify the voices of people who are affected by public policies or excluded from public debate. Find information, including how to submit your own commentary, here.

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Brenda Bandy
Brenda Bandy

Brenda Bandy is the co-executive director of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition and a founding member and past president of the coalition. Brenda oversees the KBC’s programs, which includes work with employers, child care providers, families, public health, hospitals, and community organizations. She serves on the Kansas Maternal Child Health Council which advises the state Title V program. She has been an active member representative to the US Breastfeeding Committee since 2011 and served on the USBC Board of Directors. Brenda has been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for more than 10 years and is a retired La Leche League Leader of 20 years. She has a passion for bringing people together to remove barriers to breastfeeding.