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How to Model a Family-Friendly Workforce from the Top Down | Tips from Kinside & Urbansitter CEOs

Read the full case study and results on workplace child care benefits from Kinside



Providing a supportive work environment for working parents is not just a kind thing to do; it is a proven investment in employee satisfaction and the success of the organization. Today we'll learn from Shadiah Sigala and Lynn Perkins, CEOs of Kinside and UrbanSitter respectively, who have created businesses aimed at helping working parents handle caregiving responsibilities more easily. Both leaders have fostered company cultures where working families and caregivers can truly thrive in their careers. And, they'll give us a first-hand account of how they did it - so you can too. 


How Two CEOs Unlocked Employee Potential with Family-Friendly Policies


Through a combination of family-friendly policies and intentional, top-down behavioral modeling - Kinside's CEO Sigala architected the type of workplace that parents actually love to work at. And, the impact on retention is phenomenal.


“Kinside’s workforce is over 75% parents, many of whom have children under 5. Our retention numbers are exceptional, 100% of parents have returned from leave and I’ve seen the investments we’ve made pay dividends in attracting and retaining exceptional, seasoned talent,” says Sigala.


Urban Sitter's CEO Perkins, a mom of three, credits their flexible work policies and back-to-work transition plan with Urban Sitter’s high rate of retention. She believes that big investments like a generous parental policy are a must for a family-friendly workplace. However, it’s the smaller gestures in the day-to-day that are most culturally transformative.


Both Sigala and Perkins, recently teamed up to offer a product called Kinside's Complete Care which combines their two services to provide a 7-1 benefit for employee caregiving.


We've consolidated their best strategies and tactics that enabled them to build highly-engaged and satisfied workforces so HR teams and leaders can start to implement them in their own organizations.


Top 6 strategies for a Family Friendly Workplace 



1. Keep your calendar transparent


One way to foster a family-friendly culture is by being transparent about your calendar, especially as it relates to your parenting duties.

“If I have to go to my child’s dance recital at noon, I’m going to put it right there in between my board meeting and my product roadmap call so my employees feel comfortable doing the same,” Sigala says.

She goes on to say, “We need to eliminate the expectation that parents should work like they don’t have kids and parent like they don’t work. The fact is, it’s an illusion anyway. Your employees are still leaving at 4:30 to pick up their children from daycare so why create the added stress of making them feel like they need to hide it? By being open about the fact that I pause my workday to attend a dance recital and asking managers to do the same, I’m creating an environment of recognition and acceptance."



2. Respect boundaries, especially your own


“There can be a tendency, particularly in tech, to be available 24-7 and it’s up to us as leaders to draw the line,” says Sigala. “After I pick my children up from care, there are dinners to make, baths to be given and books to be read. I’ve told my team directly they are unlikely to receive a response from me during these hours because I prioritize this time with my children." She adds. 

"I make sure to respect this boundary because I know my employees are looking to me to understand what is culturally appropriate. I ask all of my managers to do the same and evaluate urgency before messaging employees during these critical parenting hours."

She continues, "Once the kids are in bed I might take some time to check off some things on my to-do list but I’ll typically schedule messages to send early the next day instead of barraging my team with late-night notifications". 


3. Offer child care benefits

The fact is that parents of young children are paying to be at work. Offering a childcare benefit can help offset those costs for employees and drive long-term retention. In a survey of Kinside parents 88% said that having the benefit made them feel like their employer cared more about them. Child care benefits like Kinside not only help reduce the financial and tactical burden of child care on time-taxed employees, but they signal recognition from their employer for the second shift they face when the workday ends.

“At Kinside, not only do employees have access to the Kinside network, which includes real-time data around open spots and exclusive discounts but we also provide a child care stipend to help reduce the cost of childcare for parents of young children,” says Sigala

Perkins also believes in the power of the stipend. “We offer UrbanSitter credit to our employees so that they can book care for children, pets, or find elder companion care.” Benefits like these reduce both the mental load and the financial burden of care on parents and help them stay more engaged. 


4. Cultivate an open and supportive environment


It is crucial to foster an open and supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their personal challenges and experiences. “I often begin my first meetings of the week talking about the weekend I spent with my children and ask my team members about how they spent their time off. It’s a great way to foster personal connection and find common ground, but it’s also a tool to convey that we can bring our whole selves to work. "


“In Slack we have an AWW channel and a PARENTSURVIVAL channel. People post photos of their kids and pets in the AWW channel. People seek advice or post about the ups and downs of parenting in the Parent Survival channel.” says Perkins.

These channels can be created by anyone, but when leaders form and participate in the channels it demonstrates that there is a culture of open communication and empathy. By cultivating a safe space for dialogue, we can provide the necessary support and understanding when our employees need it the most.

5. Offer a Child Care Stipend


Recognizing the financial burden faced by parents, offering a child care stipend can make a significant difference. Parents not only dedicate their time and effort at work but also incur costs for child care.

"By providing a child care stipend, we demonstrate our commitment to supporting working parents and easing some of the financial strain they experience. It is an investment in our employees' well-being and sends a clear message that we value their commitment to both their families and our organization."


6. Embrace Flexible Schedules

Perkins believes the key to making flexible schedules work for all team members lies in communication.

“Urban Sitter has an 'unavailable' channel on Slack where people can post if they are running out to pick up their kids from school or if they are going to a school drama performance, etc. It's an easy way for people to let each other know that they are out for other obligations,” she says.

The result of making obligations known keeps team members in the know and helps create a culture of understanding. 


Sigala says "I understand the challenges that come with strict child-care pickup times. To accommodate the needs of working parents, we offer flexible working hours whenever possible. This allows parents to fulfill their parenting responsibilities without compromising their professional commitments. Avoiding meetings after 4pm or before 9am, whenever feasible, gives parents the flexibility they need to manage their work and family obligations effectively. It is essential to create an environment that respects and supports the diverse needs of our employees."


Put it all together with time and consistency 


Creating a family-friendly workplace is an essential aspect of building a supportive and thriving organizational culture. By modeling transparency, offering child care stipends, providing flexible hours, and cultivating open communication, leaders can create an environment where working parents feel valued and supported. Such initiatives not only enhance employee satisfaction and retention but also contribute to increased productivity and overall organizational success. Let us prioritize the well-being of our employees and continue to champion a family-friendly workplace for the benefit of all.


Remember, when we support our employees' needs outside of work, they bring their best selves to the job, resulting in a happier and more engaged workforce. Together, let us create an environment where work-life integration is embraced, and the demands of parenthood are met with understanding, support, and sufficient resources.



Client Case StudyCurious how to bring on a child care benefit in your workplace?  Read our client case study.

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