Changing Jobs

How to recognize a family-friendly employer

Written by Kate Lopaze

One of the biggest lessons of this pandemic year has been that balancing work and family life can be hard, for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s taking care of family members, helping with kids’ remote schooling, or any other family concern, many professionals have learned how necessary it is to have a job and company that can work with personal priorities. If you’re thinking about making a job change but want a family-friendly company, here’s how to start looking for the right opportunities.

Know what you’re looking for

Before you start looking for specific jobs or companies it’s important to take stock of what you really want. Flexible work hours? Generous leave policies? Strong health benefits? Think about the commitments you have to your family right now. What are your priorities that need to be balanced with work? Is this likely temporary or will you need to plan long-term for these priorities and needs? What has worked for you in the past and what hasn’t?

The clearer you can be with yourself about what you want and need in a new job, the less heartache later when you go after opportunities that don’t really fit.

Do your research

As with all quests for knowledge, go online and scope out company websites in your industry. You can tell a lot from how a company talks about its employees and the way it talks about employee support. Also scope out the senior leadership—is it a mix of men and women? If there are very few women at the top, it could be a red flag that people with families aren’t prioritized or supported at every level.

And if the site mentions family-friendliness directly, great! Still do some snooping around the site to see if they talk about how they support employees with families or how they talk about employees, to make sure it’s not just a buzzword. Newsletters, blogs, and social media feeds are a good way to see how the company presents itself on a regular basis. In your search, also check around for any employee resource groups, especially those geared toward support for working parents, adoption support, and other family issues.

Listen to the word-of-mouth feedback

While anybody’s personal opinion should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s helpful to see what current and ex-employees have to say about the company. Sites like Glassdoor allow for candid feedback, and you’ll be able to see if companies are bad about family leave and work-life balance, or how they treat working parents.

LinkedIn can also be a good networking tool to use here. You can reach out to current or former employees and send a friendly email to see if they’re willing to chat with you about what it’s like to work at the company.

Ask the right questions in your interview

In your interview, you don’t have to talk about your family plans or obligations (and in fact, it’s illegal in many cases for them to ask you about those things). What you can do is find out more about the company culture. It’s also a chance to see what your interviewer is like. Do they have a desk full of family photos? Mention something offhand about their kid being a regular Zoom cameo? You can ask them about work-life balance without tripping any red flags.

Also be sure to ask what the typical work day would be like. From there, you can figure out on your own whether it would work for your needs. For example, if it’s a place that has scheduled meetings and calls all day every day, that could be a problem if you need a more flexible day.

You should also not be shy about asking questions directly of your HR contact, about benefits and support for working families (like childcare, healthcare, and personal wellness programs).

To find the right job opportunity, you shouldn’t have to deprioritize your family obligations. Plenty of companies out there can fit your needs (and your family’s). Doing a little extra digging when looking for your next job can help you find your people.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.