12 Attributes of a Child-Friendly Workplace (10)
I woke up this morning thinking that life has no meaning if we live it for ourselves. I think one thing we should do for ourselves is to prepare ourselves to live for others. Therein rests the fulfilment of every man created by God. When I talk about living for others, I think, it begins with living for your family, your spouse and your children. Faithfulness in little brings more, says the Holy Writ. Charity must always begin from home. That is why I love the confession of Dr. Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom. He said and I urge you to meditate on it: ‘when your life is the struggle, like mine was, there is little room left for family. That has always been my greatest regret, and most painful aspect of the choice I made. We watched our children grow without our guidance…To be the father of a nation is a great honour, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far little of.’
Permit me to continue with this series, which I was compelled by the end of the year season to suspend: 12 Attributes of a Child-Friendly Workplace. Here is the 9th attribute: flexible working hours. Permit me to begin by declaring that our family is our full time responsibility, while our work is our part time work. Dr. Nelson Mandela made that very clear. I think we have every reason to learn from his wisdom. At the end of live our fulfillment will not come from our achievements in the area of vocation but our intimacy with our family members. Never mind that the order has been reversed in this age and time. Many of us see our role in the family as secondary and our work as number one. It is more so in the Third World, where many of us live under the siege of survival mentality.
Survival mentality is the inevitable end result, where state as represented by government fails in their responsibility as clearly state in the social contract. The social contract is predicated upon the principle that the WELFARE and the SECURITY of the people shall be the primary aims of government. It is no longer news that in the Third World, particularly Africa, where there are no social support structures/services to support human existence and basic and inalienable needs, the neglect and insecurity of the people have become the primary aim of government.
You see, survival mentality robs a man of his reasoning faculty, having been saddled with responsibilities that should not be ordinarily his. Once a man loses his reasoning faculty, he loses his sense of options. Human beings are supposed to be limitless in their options. A man struck down by survival mentality is not aware of his options. He is driven by his belly. I guess that is why the English adage says, ‘a beggar has no choice.’ Because the labour market is saturated, people are in the Third World, particularly Africa are in the pathetic habit of accepting any working condition.
In this kind of situation, the family bears the brunt of the unfriendly working conditions. Parents go to work before their children wake up and they return after their children have gone to bed. This is very pathetic. Children do not know their parents and parents have no time to fellowship with their children. As far as the parents are concerned, once they pay school fees and meets the children basic needs, they are already fulfilling their responsibility to their children. Unknown to them there are many things which are crucial to a child’s peaceful development. Many parents do not understand, for example that money cannot buy love. Love is not communicated to a child through material things. To a child, love means attention and acceptance. Both answer to time with the child. How do we show attention? We need time to show attention. How do we show a child that he is accepted? Acceptance is shown through appreciation. You cannot appreciate except there is time.
In view of the foregoing, I think a Child-Friendly Workplace will consider flexible work hours for working parents. Flexible work hours may mean that parents are allowed to resume outside the normal hours some days of the week or close early some days of the week. I think it will not be out of place if working parents are allowed to close early to enable them spend time with their family.
I must say that there are many issue, which the workplace in the Third World do not pay attention to, which are very critical to performance. I think one of such issues is a balanced family life. If an employee is happy at home, he brings the happiness to the office. If he is angry at home, he also brings the anger to the office.
My advocacy today is that the African Workplace must move quickly from not being concerned with the life of their staff beyond the office. They must be interested in their personal lives and help them to be responsible to their families. This will be in the best interest of the child. It will by extension be in the best interest of humanity. Abraham Lincoln made it clear, ‘the state of humanity is in the hands of the child.’ I also want to urge parents, who seek for jobs to always consider the interest of their children when signing up for an offer. Our family must be our greatest source of joy. If it must be we must be deliberate about it.
Finally, I urge every member of society to show interest in this matter. I am not under an illusion that the workplace will be child friendly. Why? There are no regulatory bodies, empowered by the African governments to ensure conformity to corporate best practice. Human Resource issues are left to the whims and caprices of the corporate bodies. Where they are sane, they embrace best practice, where they are not, they become oppressive and inconsiderate. It is our responsibility as citizens to agitate for a Child-friendly Workplace. With you support, I look forward to a Child-Friendly Workplace in Africa…I see it…So help us God.
Thank you for joining me today. I urge you friends, Think the Child, Think Today, Think the Future. Do have an INSPIRED Day.
Love this piece Taiwo. We all need to fight for family friendly working conditions in this country. Afterall we cant all be self employed. The problem as you’ve said lies in people feeling like helpless victims who have no say in the matter. Another problem is an unwillingness to prioritize differently and take the family friendly jobs that are available because more often than not a pay cut is involved. The bottom line is that no matter where you live in the world you must be ready to earn less for a while until the children are older. This does not necessarily mean one will be living below the poverty line – it just means some luxuries may have to wait a little. You can have it all – but not at the same time.