Will workplaces need to be more family friendly in 2024?

By Emma Walsh, CEO Parents At Work

In 2024, the landscape of inclusive workplace policies is rapidly evolving.

Influenced by societal shifts, employee expectations and growing gender, health and safety requirements, employers are under pressure to act.  Factors that stifle workforce participation, wellbeing and the gender pay gap are in the firing line. Flex and hybrid working, parental leave, care and wellbeing policies will all be in the spotlight.

Embracing Flexibility as the Norm:
The concept of flexible work will continue to be redefined and remain an integral part of workplace culture. Remote and hybrid working, once a privilege, is now standard practice across many workplaces. Whilst return-to-office mandates have been laid down by some employers, if organisations are serious about retaining talent and addressing gender inequality, there’s little doubt that easy access to flexible working will be crucial.

This shift is not just in response to the pandemic but also a reflection of changing workforce demographics and the need for better work-life integration, particularly for those with caring responsibilities.

Enhanced Parental Leave Policies:
The trend towards more inclusive and generous parental leave policies is gaining momentum. According to a study by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, there is a growing acknowledgment of the benefits of extended parental leave, not just for women caregivers but also for male caregivers. In 2024, it’s expected that employers will offer more flexible options, including part-time return-to-work schemes post-parental leave, and increased leave for non-birth parents, aligning with principles outlined in resources like the ‘Parental Leave Best Practice Principles’ (Parents At Work, 2023). This trend is not only supportive of employee well-being but also promotes gender equality in caregiving roles.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Focus:
Employee wellbeing, particularly mental health, is set to be a cornerstone of workplace culture in 2024. Organisations are expected to invest more in mental health resources, recognising the impact of work-related stress on work and family life. Policies and practices to support employees and leadership wellbeing training are likely to increased.

Inclusive Policies for Diverse Family Structures:
As family structures become more diverse, employers in 2024 will need to adopt more inclusive policies. This includes recognising the needs of single parents, LGBTQI+ families, and multi-generational households. The expanded understanding of ‘family’ necessitates policies that cater to a wider range of caregiving responsibilities.

Data-Driven Approach to Policy Making:
The use of data analytics in shaping family-friendly policies will become more pronounced in 2024. Organisations will rely on data to understand the needs of their workforce better and to measure the impact of their policies. Tools like employee surveys and productivity metrics will help in customising benefits and programs that genuinely support employees.

Support for Life Transitions:
Employers in 2024, will increasingly recognise the need to support employees through various life transitions. This includes not only parental leave but also caregiving for elderly relatives. Employers will provide resources and time off for these life events, understanding their impact on employees’ performance and wellbeing.

As organisations adapt to these changes, they will not only enhance their attractiveness as employers but also contribute positively to the broader societal shifts towards more equitable and inclusive future of work.

– Workplace Gender Equality Agency: [www.wgea.gov.au](https://www.wgea.gov.au/)
Parents At Work