The University of New Mexico recently earned distinction with Tier 1 recognition for its workplace policies by Family Friendly New Mexico, a statewide project developed to recognize companies that have adopted policies that give New Mexico businesses an edge in recruiting and retaining the best employees.

The Family Friendly New Mexico project has taken a positive approach to transforming workplace policies in the state by offering training and resources on how businesses can adopt more family-friendly policies; awards and recognition for companies that offer their employees family-friendly benefits; and a resource and clearinghouse of information for businesses and community leaders as they develop policies on issues such as paid family leave and help with childcare.

“Six years ago, while a member of the Office of University Counsel, I participated in a state task force on Work-Life Balance that discussed family friendly policies,” said Pamina Deutsch, University Policy and Administrative Planning director, UNM Policy Office. “The New Mexico Family Friendly Business Award is an outgrowth of that task force. It was gratifying to work with Brenda de la Pena of Benefits on the application for the award and realize how many policies UNM has that fit into the award criteria categories.”  

“As we grow the state’s economy, we have the opportunity to be a national leader in offering New Mexicans workplaces that help companies attract and keep the best workers,” said Giovanna Rossi, head of Family Friendly New Mexico. “Implementing family-friendly policies can be a simple, concrete investment a company can make to ensure it can compete for highly qualified employees.  Studies have shown that costs associated with creating family-friendly benefits are more than made up for in improved productivity, employee morale and employee retention.”

Family-friendly policies include a wide range of options that companies can adopt, including providing access to health insurance; paid vacation; making reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees; flexible leave time for parents to attend to their kids’ medical or school needs; paid family leave; and ensuring workplaces have proper breastfeeding space and storage, among many other family-friendly benefits.

Tier I Award recipients meet at least one family-friendly policy in each of the four categories and receive the family friendly business award seal and a certificate of recognition that they can utilize in their business materials and promotion.

The categories for which UNM was recognized and examples of UNM’s policies in those categories are: Paid Leave (e.g., the Faculty Handbook Parental Leave Policy), Health Support (e.g., Lactation Support Program Policy), Work Schedules (e.g., Paid Time Policy, which encourages flexible schedules for community engagement and wellness and fitness activities) and Economic Support (e.g., Education Benefits Policy, which includes tuition remission and dependent education).

“Since becoming head of the Policy Office in February 2012, I have looked for opportunities to create family friendly policies,” Deutsch added.  “A wonderful example is the Lactation Support Program policy, which provides paid lactation breaks and includes guidance on what constitutes a reasonable lactation break.”

Any New Mexico business is eligible to apply for the New Mexico Family-Friendly Business award.

For a full list, and to learn more, visit New Mexico Family Friendly initiative.