Create an environment that supports and includes all workers, regardless of marital, relationship or parental status. A key to doing this is the sense of support coming from supervisors. Training can be implemented to help supervisors understand how to manage their team so that all members feel connected and supported. Supervisors may not always be aware of the degree to which their employees feel or do not feel connected at work.
Provide work opportunities and assignments without regard to family/marital status or personal situations. Instead, use only job-relevant criteria such as past performance and strengths to determine work opportunities. When single workers feel that such assignments are given fairly, they are less likely to make plans to leave the firm.
Offer a wide variety of cafeteria-style employee benefits so that employees can choose those that best meet their personal work-life needs. Companies can still offer on-site day care, resource and referral programs, and health coverage for spouses and children, but they should also offer programs that will benefit single employees with no children, such as subsidies for fitness centers or education and training opportunities and even pet care that employees can use when traveling for business.
Treat all employee requests for time off, schedule flexibility or other alternative work arrangements the same, regardless of the reason.
Let job type or level drive work expectations rather than personal or family situations. This is an important concern for single workers who often are expected to work overtime or holidays more frequently than co-workers with spouses and children. Singles are often willing to volunteer for extra work and travel to benefit married co-workers with family obligations as long as it does not interfere with the important non-work roles in a single person’s life.
Clif Boutelle is a consultant for the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.