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Prioritizing Family

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

We all know families are important.  Family routines and traditions, such as shared meals and holiday activities, can have positive effects on the development of our children and the direction of our lives.  Unfortunately, busy schedules can cause important family time to get lost in the shuffle.   As a husband, father and grandfather, I know how difficult it can be to squeeze enough time out of each day to get quality time with our loved ones, while also meeting work responsibilities. 

Studies show that a healthy balance between work and family will produce happier and more productive employees, which benefits families, communities and our nation.  That is why I support efforts and initiatives that promote work-life flexibility.  I have been honored to serve as chairman of the Senate Working Group on Workplace Flexibility that has worked to promote better work life balance for families. 

This effort also includes supporting legislation that recognizes the importance of flexible work schedules to job productivity and healthy families.  Earlier this year, I joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing a Senate resolution designating October 2012 as "National Work and Family Month."  The resolution, which was unanimously approved by the Senate, recognizes the importance of working families in today's evolving workforce and urges public officials, employers, employees and the general public to work together to achieve more balance between work and family.  Some of the key findings highlighted in the resolution are as follows:

  • "According to a report by WorldatWork…the quality of workers' jobs and the supportiveness of the workplace of the workers are key predictors of the job productivity, job satisfaction, and commitment to the employer of those workers, as well as of the ability of the employer to retain those workers;"
  • "Numerous studies show that employers that offer effective work-life balance programs are better able to recruit more talented employees, maintain a happier, healthier, and less stressed workforce, and retain experienced employees, which produces a more productive and stable workforce with less voluntary turnover;"
  • "Job flexibility often allows parents to be more involved in the lives of their children, and research demonstrates that parental involvement is associated with higher achievement in language and mathematics, improved behavior, greater academic persistence, and lower dropout rates in children;"
  • "Military families have special work-family needs that often require robust policies and programs that provide flexibility to employees in unique circumstances;"

To help recognize the special work-family needs of military families and the employers who provide exceptional support of military families, I introduced S.90, the Military Family-Friendly Employer Award Act.  Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) joined me in introducing this bipartisan legislation that would create an award for employers who have developed and implemented workplace flexibility policies to assist the working spouses and caregivers of service members and returning service members in addressing family and home needs during deployments. 

A strong family unit is the bedrock of a healthy society.  Families provide direction and support and underpin our communities and nation.  Prioritizing policy that best enables families to thrive is essential.      

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