Eleven Ways to Tell How Family-Friendly that Prospective Job Really Is

by Elizabeth Wilcox

Wondering how to determine how family-friendly that prospective job really is? Don’t answer that question based on job description alone. Look deeper. Below are 11 tips for determining if that potential job is really right for you and your family.

  1. Know the your needs and those of your family
    Family-friendly is a relative term. A job that is family-friendly to one person might not be to the next. Figure out what you need most in a job, be it a high salary, benefits, or the ability to work from home.
  2. Understand the responsibilities of the job
    If you’re hoping to negotiate flexible scheduling, part-time work, or the ability to work from home, you better know what it takes to get the job done. Can it be done, at least in part, from home? Does it require travel? Can responsibilities be farmed out to colleagues? Know what you’re getting into before you jump.
  3. A supportive boss
    Over and over again, the one common and clearly identifiable trait of family-friendly jobs, say moms, is a supportive boss. You can work in the most accommodating of jobs for the most family-friendly company, but if your boss doesn’t understand that you’ve got a life outside work, watch out.
  4. Flexibility
    Flexibility can mean varying start and finish times; it can mean a shorter day if you agree to work longer ones; it can mean being able to briefly leave the office to attend a child’s medical appointment. Whatever the form, flexibility can help you juggle work and home.
  5. A clear chain of command
    If you need to obtain many approvals to vary your schedule in any way, you could have a hard time succeeding in meeting your needs as mom. Understand the organizational chart before you sign on.
  6. A degree of autonomy
    A lot of women say being your own boss is unbeatable when it comes to enabling you to meet the demands of your kids. But autonomy comes in degrees and doesn’t have to be limited to being self-employed. If your employer trusts that you can get the job done well and doesn’t feel compelled to monitor your every task, managing home and work will be easier.
  7. A company that values output rather than input
    Face time or when a company puts great value on the number of hours an employee works is not desirable for any mom. You want a company that values how well you do your job first.
  8. Senior women
    Senior women in management are a good sign. Not only do you have potential advocates, but you also know those women have persisted at the company.
  9. Low turnover
    A low rate of turnover suggests that people are happy in their jobs. If the company has a high rate of turnover, moms say beware.
  10. A good environment
    People who seem happy off camera – such as in the bathrooms – as well as on camera give further indication that it could be a good place to work.
  11. A company that puts its money where its work/life mouth is
    While not always a clear indicator that your job will meet your needs as a mom, a company that says it values work/life is a start. Raising work/life issues will be easier there than with an employer who shies away from using the term at all.