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Family Afternoons

Each employee is given one morning or afternoon off every quarter, to take at their time of choosing, specifically in order to support a family event like a kids' football game or ballet recital. Photos are encouraged and pinned up in the office.

Photo of James Robertson
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Every parent surely wants to see more of the events in their lives that matter to their kids. It would feel great to know that the company you work for encourages this practice, and if pictures of the events were posted on a pinboard or online forum, it should prevent too much abuse of the system.

If companies feel strongly against just donating extra afternoons, perhaps the system is adapted to allow overtime to be exchanged for these afternoons. In essence then it just becomes flexible working hours; but hopefully this allows the companies that are not willing to become too flexible the chance to show that they do care enough to allow families to enjoy the important moments together.

What are the benefits of your concept for the individual and the employer?

The individual feels more supportive of his/her family, and the employer should enjoy the loyalty of the employee in return for this support. It pinboard also gives colleagues a chance to learn more about each others families and lives outside of work, and hopefully form a better, more empathetic working relationship because of that.

What might the impact of your concept be and how might it be measured?

Perhaps measuring employee retention rates over a longer period would be the best way of measuring whether this really makes a difference. It is effectively only giving each employee an extra 2 days annual leave, but the overall effects could be greater than that if the company succeeds in marketing the message that it genuinely cares about not letting work get in the way of family lives.

How might your concept be designed to scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

If the concept is simple enough, given a decent online home and marketed successfully by Bupa in line with encouragement for widespread adoption among private companies (and receives the support of taxpayers to allow the public sector workers to enjoy the same benefit), then it could become a widely recognized and valued stamp of approval for a company's employer credentials.

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

Start with a handful of companies - perhaps sponsor or insure the initiative so as to offset any loss in productivity. The hope is that the extra time off actually incentivizes the employee to pay back his/her company by making sure their work is done before they enjoy the family time.


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Hi James, great concept; very well thought out. Just wondering, though; If there are a large number of parents in the organisation, whose children go to the same school, they would want to get the same time off, possibly leaving the workforce short of bodies. What if there are a large number of employees with little or no family, or non locally? It could have a negative impact of those individuals.

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