Posted on / Updated on / in Blog & HR Policies /

Although it’s been years since Angelina Jolie stole Jennifer Aniston’s husband Brad Pitt, the media loves to pit the two against each other.

So we thought we’d use these famous “enemies” to explain a very important HR topic: creating a family-friendly and single-friendly work environment.

Although Angelina Jolie is not married to Brad Pitt, she is raising six kids with him and would benefit from a family-friendly work environment. Jennifer Aniston is on the opposite side of the spectrum by living up the single life and dating famous musicians like John Mayer and now actor Justin Theroux. The two actresses have very different lifestyles, but should be treated the same (in an HR perspective.)

In our blog last week, we talked about getting the kids back to school and how employers should handle employees (like Angelina) taking days off for a child’s school-related events. (Read that blog here).

Now that you have those policies in order, you need to make sure you’re taking care of your single employees (like Jennifer) too.

The numbers don’t lie. An article on CNN.com entitled, “Single? You’re not alone,” informs readers that 96 million people in the US are single (as of August 2010). That means around 43% of Americans over age 18 are living the single life. That percentage is up from 41% in 2005.

So what does this mean for your business?

As the proportion of single and childless workers increases, so do complaints of unfairness in employers’ benefits and policies.

Sometimes single employees can feel they are being taken advantage of. The overall assumption tends to be that if you’re single, you have nothing better to do—or nothing that qualifies as more important that what your married co-workers have to do—and so you’re going to have to pick up what the rest of the workforce can’t or won’t.

Singles feel put on, taken for granted and exploited—whether because of fewer benefits, less compensation, longer hours, mandatory overtime, or less flexible schedules or leaves—by married and child-rearing co-workers.

Should Angelina be able to leave the movie set without notice to take care of one of her sick kids while Jennifer is forced to finish a scene even though her beloved dog Norman is sick?

(In case you missed it, Jennifer’s 15-year-old corgi-terrier mix named Norman passed away in July and she recently got his name tattooed on her right ankle.)

The answer is simple: single employees (with or without pets) and employees with children should have the same rights.

The absence and leave policies in your Employee Handbook need to be in order so your business can avoid an Angelina vs. Jennifer cat fight.

Be proactive and follow our steps to get your policies in order!

  • Days Off: If an employee is eligible for paid time off or vacation days, it shouldn’t matter how he/she uses it. If Jennifer Aniston wants to use her vacation days to jet set to Hawaii with new beau Justin Theroux, she can. If Angelina Jolie wants to use her available paid time off to adopt another child from Ethiopia, she can. Your company should have a policy that has a certain number of vacation days and paid time off for each employee, regardless of martial status. Make sure employees with children are NOT given more days than single employees. In other words, the Jennifer’s and the Angelina’s need to receive the same treatment. Make sure your absence and leave policy in your Employee Handbook is in order so your employees know how to request time off.
  • Benefits: While your business should be family-friendly when it comes to benefits, you need to be single-friendly as well. Benefits should apply to everyone equally and strive to reward everyone fairly by matching employee’s individual priorities regardless of their lives, career stages, personal situations, etc. One way to accomplish this is to use supplemental benefits. Need help implementing supplemental benefits into your company plan? Contact us today!
  • Social inclusion: Some companies have new employee groups that sponsor lunches, programs, seminars, and social events like bowling, movies, happy hours and volunteering to help everyone feel included. While Angelina may leave the movie set right when the director yells cut to be her kids, Jennifer may hang around longer to build relationships with her make-up artist or coffee-getting assistant. Make sure your single employees aren’t feeling left out or their work may suffer. When singles have a sense of attachment to work and feel more supported, it tends to lead to greater retention, productivity and job performance.

So, don’t just assume your single employees are feeling included. Resentment could be on the verge of boiling over (Although, we doubt American’s sweetheart Jennifer Aniston would ever throw a fit). It is important for companies to be proactive and take steps in order to avoid miscommunications that could lead to lawsuits. Need help updating your policies in your Employee Handbook? Contact us today! Our HR professionals are here to help!

How does your business take care of the Angelina’s and Jennifer’s? Let us know in the comments!

Budgets are tight. What are you doing to help your bottom line?
Top 5 Reasons HR Outsourcing Improves Your Bottom Line

Our team talked to business leaders who have taken the step to outsource HR and provided real world insights and learnings in this free resource. Learn more about how HR Outsourcing can impact your bottom line, and see if it is a good fit for your business.

New call-to-action

about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.