Supporting Families in NC Tourism Industry

— Written By Courtney Hotchkiss

One great thing about the tourism industry is that there is a huge variety of jobs, a demand for a wide range of skills, and the creative opportunities that come from the continuously changing needs and demands of consumers. With this smorgasbord of options, employers and their families can feel stressed. Employers must be aware of what their employees need to have balance at work and home.

Website snapshot of Family Friendly NC

Family Forward NC is an initiative for businesses to improve practices and create policies promoting better health and wellbeing for employees. Healthy families is mutually benefical for employeers and employees.

One important aspect to employee wellbeing must come from employers; they must offer a safe space and policies that address family needs and appropriate benefits. Family Forward NC is an initiative recognizing that all families are different and that workplaces need to adapt so their employees can maintain overall health. Their mission is to help business adopt family-friendly practices aimed at improving the wellbeing of children, parents, and families. It is intended to be led by employers with the goal to improve employee retention, productivity and wellbeing of their families. 

How do we define family? Does society still hold expectations for traditional parenting roles? The simple answer is that family structure is complex. Single-parent families are common, meaning their household only has one income. A declining birth rate in the United States means there will be less available workforce in the future. Furthermore, lack of family support at work is a contributor to the declining birth rate, as some couples choose not to have children because they will not receive the flexibility and support from their place of employment. Currently, more than one third of families spend at least 20% of their income on childcare; if you are part of the 60% of hourly paid workers, wages are typically lower and benefits can be basic or not offered. 

Emblem of a family friendly employer certification program

Family Friendly Businesses provide flexibility in helping all employees balance their work and family responsibilities. Above is an example of a stamp from a certification program offered in California.

However, when employees are healthy and happy, businesses are in a better position to thrive! Gallup US recently published an article on the importance of employee health, stating that employee thriving may soon be a required reporting metric. The article states that, “thriving employees have 53% fewer missed days due to health issues and substantially lower disease burden”. On the other side, 87% of employees expect their employer to support them in balancing work and personal commitments.

The Family Forward NC website has resources for sample policies, a directory of family-friendly workplaces in North Carolina (and their actions), and free access to their guidebook. The Community Toolbox website also provides outlines, presentations and examples to help design and implement family-friendly practices. This article from UNICEF has ten tips for companies, and emphasizes practices are mutually beneficial and the right thing to do. 

Creating change in the workplace is not always easy, especially in a field as diverse as tourism. The pandemic creates additional challenges and some areas of tourism are particularly struggling. However, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to take care of ourselves and each other.