Companies can boast all they want about offering family-friendly perks like flexible schedules and the option to work from home. But these benefits are pointless if employees avoid using them because they think they’ll be viewed as less committed to their jobs.
A brilliant LinkedIn post suggests that if companies truly want to foster a culture that supports work-life balance, managers at the top must set an example.
Trinidad-and-Tobago-based father Stuart Franco, the CEO of IT company the TSL Group, told his network that he’s transparent with his team when family obligations overlap with work.
Recently, he had to leave work by 3:30 p.m. to watch his three sons at their football matches. He informed his assistant that he would be departing early from the office, and asked the employee to share the news with anyone else who might need him. Rather than telling a white lie about why he wouldn’t be available, like many working parents feel like they must, he was truthful about being there for his kids.
“I am not only a CEO, I’m also a dad. I’m human and I want my team to recognize that, and know that I understand they are no different,” he explained. “I prefer to foster a culture of openness. So many feel the need to make up a story when they just need a little time to do something that is important to them and their family.”
Stuart continued, “Building company culture starts with me. I never want our team members to feel like they have to hide their personal lives at work or feel like they have to apologize for it.”
Ending his post, the dad said he was inspired by fellow CEO father Daniel Abrahams, who gained attention on LinkedIn when he wrote about the many ways he is honest with his team about personal matters.
Commenters who saw Stuart’s post applauded his refreshing approach.
One user said that the dad was “promoting a level of transparency at a senior level that is rare.” The LinkedIn member added, “Staff do feel funny or I should say, ‘guilty,’ when they have personal stuff to get done. Fostering a culture where people feel obligated to deliver while being given the freedom to handle personal matters is rare but needed.”
Others pointed out that when leaders are open about responsibilities in their personal lives, it’s particularly helpful to mothers. One commenter, who manages working moms, said she lets them leave early for birthday parties, school events and anything they need to do to be there for their kids. “Too many times women don’t get to the top because they are forced to make a choice and we lose productive, intelligent women. I want my women to know it’s not a choice—it can coexist. It’s not about building a good company—it’s about building a good society. It’s great that you are doing this. Being great bosses running successful companies doesn’t mean we can’t be present parents.”