Family support services
A good work-life balance reduces stress and burn-out. The term is a recent phenomenon, due in part to technological progress (with smartphones and e-mail) blurring the lines between one's professional and private life. But focusing on a decent work-life balance for your staff takes effort and can at times expose you to organisational challenges as an employer. These include the complex regulations with many exceptions, the extra administrative burden, searching for a replacement for a pregnant employee or worrying about the planning that could be jeopardised.
Despite these valid arguments, experiences from organisations that have consciously implemented a family-friendly policy and are focused on a decent work-life balance have shown that this delivers a great many advantages for their employees. Employees are more committed and productive, there is less sick leave and staff turnover drops. In the battle for talent, your organisation will be viewed as an attractive organisation for future employees and you can retain talented staff.
But getting the balance right, especially now it has become normal for women to be participating (full-time) in the labour, is important. For now, women are often continuing to undertake the majority of care tasks at home. This situation must change, on the one hand by helping women find this work-life balance, and on the other by encouraging men to get more involved in these tasks. More and more fathers are wanting to have greater involvement in their family, but too often are still finding themselves without the ability to combine this with their work. That means you can also serve the societal interest as a company!
Combining a job, especially a full-time job, with a family is no easy task. The burden of household work and care sometimes prevents employees from having ‘quality time’ for themselves or with their loved ones.
Outsourcing care or household tasks can reduce the pressure on employees. However, these services are not equally accessible to everyone. As an employer, there are various ways you can support your staff in this. These forms of help and service provision can also be decisive factors in the ‘war for talent’ for attracting and retaining the most suitable candidate.
You can find a few ideas below. Most of them are budget-friendly options, so even small companies can make use of them.
Provide or support childcare for your employees.
Working parents will need childcare, but this is not always easy to organise. There might not be any places or the childcare might be far away from their own workplace. As an employer, this is a good reason for reviewing how you can support this need.
One option, of course, is to provide childcare yourself at your own company. If the financial picture at your company permits it, this can definitely be handy for your own employees, who then do not have to lose any time on picking up or dropping off children.
You can provide full-time childcare, only during holiday periods or for a maximum number of days per year (for ill children who can no longer be cared for in ‘regular’ childcare settings, for example).
Kind en Gezin (Flanders), Office de la naissance et de l’enfance (ONE) (Wallonia) or the family portal for the German-speaking community can offer further guidance on how to set up childcare.
If it is not possible to set up your own childcare, but you are able to set aside some financial resources for this, then another option is to collaborate with childcare initiatives in your company's area or with other organisations offering childcare. There are a range of formulas for this, from external child supervisors providing childcare in a room at your company to engaging the employees themselves as child supervisors for 1 day a week. You can freely determine the form of collaboration and the arrangements you make for this.
Furthermore, costs borne by your company for creating childcare places for children under 3 can be declared as deductible professional expenses. You can request a certificate for this, including the expenses incurred, from Kind en Gezin (Flanders), ONE (Wallonia) or the family portal for the German-speaking community. This must relate to childcare provision that is recognised, licensed or subsidised by or under the supervision of one of the aforementioned bodies.
Please note: There are several additional conditions. The amount must be paid directly to the childcare provision or Kind en Gezin (Flanders), ONE (Wallonia) or the family portal for the German-speaking community. The payment received may also only be used by the childcare provision to finance operational, infrastructural and furnishing costs (furniture, books, toys, etc.) for the creation of childcare places for children under 3, or to maintain childcare places already created for this purpose. This means the expenditure must not be used to repay normal childcare costs that parents pay for their children.
As an employer, you can also buy or hire places in existing childcare locations. This is where you conclude an agreement for a number of places with the childcare institution. This agreement and the arrangements it contains can be freely chosen.
- The places purchased are exclusively available to employees of your company, so the necessary places are always kept free.
- The places hired are only available to employees of your company at certain agreed times. The agreement made will depend on your company's needs. Outside of these times, or when an employee is not using the place, it will be available to other parents.
As an employer, you can fully or partially cover the price that parents pay for the childcare. As an aside, you can also build this option into a ‘flexible remuneration’ system, whereby part of the wage is replaced by other extra-legal benefits that the employee can choose.
Please note: Only do this with childcare locations that meet the licensing or subsidy conditions. These can be consulted via Kind en Gezin, ONE or the family portal for the German-speaking community.
Please note: In this case, the deductible professional expenses arrangement as mentioned earlier does not apply, given that the budget is being used here to reimburse normal childcare costs that parents pay for their children.
If the options above are not within your company's financial and practical reach, you can create an overview of childcare in the area of your company. You can always turn to the local authority for the municipality or city in which your company is based for this. They can provide an overview and will also map out the need for childcare. They will pass on this need to Kind en Gezin, ONE or the German-speaking community so that sufficient childcare can be organised. A small effort, but in time, it can make a world of difference to your employees.
Provide other family-supportive services, such as an ironing service.
A range of organisations offer the opportunity to organise an ironing service at your company. As an employer, you can conclude a contract with one of these organisations, whereby you chip in financially.
Employees bringing their ironing with them to work or to a central point, a domestic helper comes to pick it up and brings it back ironed. The domestic helper can be paid quickly and inexpensively by your employee through service vouchers. Or this service can be built into ‘flexible remuneration’ and you can shoulder (part of) the cost as the employer.