Why parent-friendly policies can boost business performance

The UAE has launched the Parent-Friendly Label (PFL) for businesses, encouraging them to offer policies and practices that support working parents of young children.

Many businesses are seeing the benefits of investing more in supporting working parents who do the critical job of raising healthy and happy children.

By enhancing family wellbeing through parent-friendly policies, employers can make a real difference in securing more positive outcomes for the next generation during the crucial developmental stages that take place between the ages of zero and eight.

But only 30 percent of countries offer maternity leave options that meet International Labour Organization standards. And according to studies, between 40 and 71 percent of employees are shifting jobs to get flexible working options.

Unicef has urged business leaders to give more support to working parents with young children.

Evidence suggests that family-friendly policies benefit businesses in terms of brand and reputation, ability to attract talent and employee productivity.

Sweden, Norway and Iceland occupy the top places in the league table of family-friendly policies. Their policies, combined with increased female employment, have boosted their GDP per capita by as much as 20 percent over the last 50 years.

The UAE has launched its own Parent-Friendly Label (PFL) to encourage policies and practices that support working parents of young children.

The PFL programme is available to all companies that implement the directives of UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan by adopting a compassionate and understanding culture and by offering sufficient maternity or paternity leave, along with other measures.

The programme is open to semi-governmental, private and third-sector organisations.

The PFL criteria was developed by business leaders through a pilot programme with focus-group feedback. It offers independent validation of a commitment to offer parent-friendly workplaces.

Research has shown that flexible working options are important to 90 percent of the UAE workforce. Over half (56 percent) of people working in the UAE want more emphasis on employee wellbeing and a work-life balance, according to the Cisco Hybrid Work Report 2022.

By applying for the PFL, organisations show that they value their workforce. And according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report, a highly engaged workforce leads to 23 percent more profitability.

In addition, a 2019 survey by the International Finance Corporation found that 51 percent of the companies providing childcare reported increased profitability in their operations.

Organisations awarded the PFL label enhance their reputations by gaining public recognition of their parent-friendly policies and practices. They can also benefit from development opportunities, evaluation report insights and networking opportunities.

The PFL has been successful in inspiring a re-examination of workplace cultures and attitudes.

For its first cycle, six organisations – HSBC, Masdar, Emirates Nature-WWF, Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, Etihad Airways and Silal – earned the PFL. They have implemented parent-friendly policies including bonding leave for adoptive parents, extended paternity leave and allowing mothers to choose when they wanted to take maternity leave, among other practices.

The second cycle of the PFL has now been launched, and organisations across the UAE are now encouraged to apply.

Visit here to apply and to find out more about what is involved.

Sana Suhail is director general of Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority

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