2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family (IYF). This commemoration offers 2 great opportunities: first, reevaluate the role of family in development and second, examine the challenges that families face today.
Some of the efforts in celebrating the IYF seek to recognize the positive impact of reconciling family life and work in the economy and society.
For example, as the International Labor Organization (ILO) has stated in different studies, business owners who support employees and their families impact the worker`s competitiveness and productivity. This correlates to social responsibility inside companies, and influences whether a company is not just socially responsible but sustainable as well.
Sustainable enterprises view employees as a source of competitive advantage, since productivity depends largely on the ability to ensure the motivation, training, and commitment of staff. When employers create mechanisms that reconcile family life and work, it achieves greater family interaction. As workers improve the quality of personal relationships the worker’s increased commitment, motivation, productivity and ability to innovate improve the quality of the overall business.
The image of the company also improves. Investment in the family benefits business and improves a company’s ability to attract and retain the best workers. A reduction in the employee turnover rate further reduces the cost of recruitment training courses, which subsequently reduces delays and improves performance.
In Latin America, the reconciliation of a joint responsibility between work and family is relatively new in the region. Chile recently implemented a program for the promotion of gender equity that includes a set of conciliatory measures, through the help of the Inter-American Development Bank and other international organizations. These measures include permits to attend school events for children twice a year, flexible schedules during the first 6 months of a child’s life, paid leave on birthdays, a monthly leave day for parents during the first 6 months of their sons’ and daughters’ lives, and workshops for parents.
The result was an 18% reduction in rotation of jobs, and a 5%-22% (dependent on type of service) increase in productivity. Among those who had used at least 2 of these measures in the same year, 91% assessed it as positive and most workers were perceived as more productive.
From these studies, we can say that the family, undoubtedly, acts as the backbone of development and potential within society.
By Kateri Salas Salazar, Regional Director of Operations for WYA Latin America