So this is the opposite problem that a lot of people seem to have when finding an employer. I've worked for three employers in the past who advertised themselves as "child friendly" or "family friendly", and would either allow employees to bring their children into the office or take extra time off because of their children without using the sick leave anyone else has to (for example, leaving early to pick up their children without making up the difference and making other employees pick up the slack).

I'm worried that if I ask about that kind of benefit, a company that doesn't provide them may feel I'm less of a cultural fit if they assume that I'm looking for them

When applying, I typically had no reservations about "family friendly" employers, even though I won't ever be using those benefits. The distractions and unequal workload have been a pattern I've noticed, however, and would like to avoid in future employers. That said, companies are unlikely to advertise that they won't be giving extra benefits to parents or allowing their children in the workplace.

Except for assuming a workplace that doesn't advertise themselves this way is more in line with my desires, which seems unreliable, is there any good indication I can use?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jane S
    Jan 12, 2016 at 1:38
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    It might be relevant in which country you live. Some countries have laws which e.g. allow parents to stay at home when their kids are sick.
    – Chris
    Jan 12, 2016 at 7:49
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    I think you are solving the wrong problem. The issue would not be "family friendly", but mismanagement of the "family friendly" benefits that result in not-family workers being overworked. I do not care if someone next to me gets to work X hour less because they have kids (or whatever the reason), what I care is that I am not forced more than my regular workday. I mean, only a very special kind of people would take extra steps to ensure that, if they are overworked, then people with family will be overworked too...
    – SJuan76
    Jan 12, 2016 at 8:16
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    @gnat I disagree. This question yielded answers about finding details of a specific, non-standard preference about culture that can be used to screen employers prior to an interview. That question has very generic answers that are more suitable for typical cultural questions - in fact, most of those answers enumerate the types of cultural questions that can be answered with their approach. None of those answers were particularly relevant or useful to me, while several of the answers to this question are.
    – S. Cazorla
    Jan 12, 2016 at 11:20

7 Answers 7


Except for assuming a workplace that doesn't advertise themselves this way is more in line with my desires, which seems unreliable, is there any good indication I can use?

As you indicated, first make sure the employer doesn't proudly advertise themselves as family-friendly, or use similar words on their website. You can learn a lot about the company culture by visiting the company's careers section of their website. Here you might find a list of benefits, which could give you clues.

As others have indicated, a search for the company and the phrase "family-friendly" can yield some insight. Glassdoor is a really good source as well.

You might consider looking for companies that permit/encourage remote work. That way, you don't have to be physically located near your co-workers' children. And when working remotely, you might be in a better position to avoid having to take on the slack left by someone leaving to pick up a child. Even if the company is family-friendly, this might insulate you somewhat.

You could consider becoming a contractor. First, you aren't committing yourself to an employer for the long haul. So if you somehow find yourself in a family-friendly setting, you can just move on to the next gig. Second, if you are good, you can be selective regarding the types of contracts you take. You can ask about children, and decline the jobs where they might be around. Finally, contractors are seldom required to "pick up the slack" for others.

If family-friendliness is truly a deal-breaker for you, state your preference in your cover letter. That will obviously narrow your list of potential employers down a lot - but you are far better off getting interest from a few employers that could actually meet your needs than by getting interest from a bunch of employers who cannot.

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    I feel this answer is the most useful in that it provides a variety of methods to help determine whether a prospective employer meets my preferences without limiting itself to any one approach that may be less effective. That the answer doesn't take up half its space trying to convince readers that the stated preferences are wrong is an added benefit.
    – S. Cazorla
    Jan 12, 2016 at 11:14
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    "contractors are seldom required to "pick up the slack" for others." -- at any rate contractors are usually paid to pick up the slack for others if that's what they're doing ;-) Hourly billing ftw. Jan 12, 2016 at 15:55
  • What would be the best way to word the preference stated in the last paragraph?
    – camden_kid
    Jan 12, 2016 at 17:50

I used the search string "Glassdoor this company is not family friendly" and the first 2 hits both were titled something like "Great company, but not family friendly".

Also on Glassdoor you can look up and display quite a number of reviews for the same company on the same page, making it easy to Ctrl+F and look up words like "family", "children", "child", "maternity" etc., use their complaints to your advantage.

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    One caveat: I'd be concerned that companies that people complain aren't "family friendly" could have other underlying culture issues. There's a difference between not being actively family friendly, and being completely alienating to people with families, the latter being the more likely scenario when people are complaining, "not family friendly."
    – Kai
    Jan 11, 2016 at 19:30
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    @Kai true enough but if you assume nobody's perfect, finding someone with the flaws that bother you the least is the way to go, isn't it? Jan 12, 2016 at 9:06
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    Suggested improvement to search string: site:Glassdoor.com "not family friendly", then add industry/company specifics. Though like @Kai says, be aware that "not family friendly" doesn't only mean not accommodating people with children, it can also mean, for example, sacking or blocking staff who want to attend family funerals or other family emergencies... "Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it" Jan 12, 2016 at 9:28

I would suggest looking into work as a government contractor or employee. There are many restricted/secure locations (mostly for classified work) that would definitely not allow children/families to enter under any circumstance. Many employment opportunities on military bases have the same type of restrictions.

Source: my experience as a govt contractor for 6 years.


Many companies consider "family friendly" to be more than just taking care of children - sick spouses and aging parents are often included, for example.

Therefore, restricting your company search to only anti-child friendly will take some work.

That being said, a cursory google search (using these key words: most family "unfriendly" companies) found this article from 2015:


Other ways: Look where the company holds its company "picnics" or gatherings - a family friendly locale? Or a bar in town? Review their benefits - do they have personal time and comp time? Most companies will "showcase" how family friendly they are.

If that information is not advertised, they probably are not.

Lastly, even in a family "unfriendly" environment, you still take on the risk that the immediate manager may still allow the things that you do not like, and thus, there is no way to ensure your job move will result in a better environment.


Many job postings, particularly in programming/development positions, will give a sense of the environment itself.

Looking for a fast-paced environment which rewards going above and beyond? We might be a good fit for you.


We are looking for hard-working, dedicated employees who are willing to put in the extra effort to get the job done right - and we compensate appropriately.

You probably want to consider both of those - I doubt either is catering to "family friendly" employees.

On the other hand:

We pride ourselves in a consistent, 9-5 work schedule, with very few evenings or weekends.

Probably not where you're looking to work, is it.

Beyond that, though, the interview is the place to find out these things. I'm not sure I'd want to limit my job search to just places that were explicit about their family friendly policy - that probably would be too limiting. Instead, I would ask about the culture in the interview.

What kind of work hours do most of the developers here keep?


What expectations do you have about night/weekend work?

Both will probably give you useful information - if for no other reason than the answer you're looking for is the opposite of what most people are, so you're likely to either get an honest answer, or a dishonest answer that will dissuade you from working there. I don't think this sort of question asked neutrally would suggest you are not a cultural fit - and if you're worried about it, when you get a to-you-positive answer, you can confirm that you preferred that answer.

Oh, that sounds great. I am a hard worker and I prefer to work with others who go above and beyond as well.

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    I almost suggested something similar to this, however, I feel like OP still probably wants a decent work/life balance just without the potential for rando coworker kids hanging around. Jan 11, 2016 at 20:51
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    I'm not in the workforce, but I'm not sure these questions are really what OP'd want to ask. I'd probably ask something like, "Does your company allow employees to bring their children into the work area?" and "
    – user32190
    Jan 12, 2016 at 7:29
  • "Are all employees expected to perform the same amount of work?" or "Are employees required to follow company leave policies if they wish to take leave for any reason not covered by applicable laws (e.g FMLA)?"
    – user32190
    Jan 12, 2016 at 7:35
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    @moonman239 The point is to not ask exactly those questions, but questions that will give you answers that give you the answer nonetheless. Asking those questions will likely not get you a useful answer - and make you sound like a bit of a crank.
    – Joe
    Jan 12, 2016 at 15:05

It's a bit of a go to question of mine, but gives me a lot of information. I try to ask this when I am talking to someone who is interviewing me a peer, not the boss.

Tell me what a typical day is like here

Often times this can tell me a lot. Do people come in at 9 or 10 and work till 6 or 7 or is it more of a 7 to 4 kind of place. This could also give you an idea about the 'family friendliness' of a place. When I asked this at Google, I found most people worked until 7 o'clock or so and partook of the free dinner. This is not someplace involved parents are going to want to do and indicates a cultural fit you may enjoy.


What you really want to know is if family friendly policies will result in undue burden on yourself. Assuming you don't have some strange notion of "fairness" in not wanting parents to look after their children properly, your real concern is the effect on you.

You can ask companies directly about this. Simply state that in the past you have been overloaded or distracted by these policies, and would like to know how this company deals with them.

Seeking out companies that don't have a family friendly policy could easily backfire - if they don't give parents basic support, what other kinds of poor working conditions do they have? Do they account for every minute of your day, are the inflexible when you need unexpected extra time off for some reason (e.g. sick relatives, funerals etc)?

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