A Good Job Isn’t Just Any Job – Especially for Working Families

May 28, 2019 | Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community

What makes a job a good job, or even a great one? Simply being employed is not enough; the health and caregiving priorities of employees and their families must be considered as part of an adequate employment strategy. A recent study across 21 industries identified three factors that working people around the world are looking for from employers: workplace flexibility, a commitment to health and well-being, and working with a purpose.

These first two factors take on even more significance if you are a single mom or dad working at a job – or multiple jobs – that barely pays enough to cover the cost of child care, and pays nothing if you have to take a day off if your child gets sick. 

We have an opportunity right now, as so many companies are considering the future of work, to articulate – and spread – a clear and compelling definition of what a good job actually is.

A good job makes employees feel valued, supported, and secure, because they know they can take the kind of leave they need, when they need to take it, to attend to the other important aspects of their lives. If it pays a fair wage for the work they do, it contributes to their well-being and their outlook on life: When employees can pay their bills without having to take on a second or even a third job, they are more likely to be able to spend time with their families and not have to push themselves to the point of exhaustion week after week. It means women have all the accommodations they need during pregnancy. And it means employees have the space and support they need to set long-term goals for themselves and their families, rather than being limited to planning from one paycheck to the next.

So how do we reverse-engineer this sense of security – of prosperity that’s available to all – into policy?

The Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community is bringing together partners across sectors – from business leaders to policymakers to practice leaders – to make sure the future of work is bright, inclusive, and supportive for all working families. And our policy and community innovators are doing this work by inviting working parents and caregivers to talk to us about the realities of work today and collaborate with us to create solutions that reflect what working families actually need.

We are invested in working with employers to deepen understanding about ways leading-edge employers are developing their own practices and engaging in this vitally important cultural shift. We recently brought together employers and family-supportive policy experts to discuss challenges and opportunities to create more meaningful support for working families. We explored questions that get to the heart of what makes a job a good one — or even a great one:

  • What barriers do employers face in providing better support for working families?
  • Where have employers found opportunities for innovation that policymakers might not see that can be shared more widely?
  • How can employers, employees, and advocates work together to create the solutions that turn good jobs into great jobs?

It is the voices of all working families that will define what a good job looks like. Paid family medical leave, workplace accommodations for pregnant employees, and child care in off hours are just a few of the ways we should be supporting working families. Policies like these should be essential components of the landscape of the American workplace.

We know that when families set the agenda, inclusive of families with low incomes, communities thrive, which is critical to a successful business environment. Their input, guidance, and leadership is crucial to creating groundbreaking, lasting solutions. By centering working families — and calling in employers, advocates, and policymakers to hear directly from them about their needs —Family Prosperity is imagining a future where everyone can work at a great job while being able to provide the kind of care that gives their families the opportunity to flourish.

Anne Mosle is a vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute.

Photo caption, L to R: Sam Smith, global policy advisor at FedEx; Tracy Schweikert, vice president of human resources at POLITICO; Aaron Seyedian, founder of Well Paid Maids. © The Aspen Institute

Related Posts

The Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community Phase II sought to find and foster the most effective and innovative strategies to accelerate social and economic mobility for working families with low incomes. To do so, we elevated the voices and expertise of families with lived experience, were guided by 14 advisors, and we brought together 20 …

Innovations Abound to Advance Family Prosperity Read More »

Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation CommunityMay 3, 2023
In a blog post authored by Trene Hawkins of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ascend's Managing Director Marjorie Sims shares how Ascend harnesses parent and caregiver leaders’ expertise to create policy and systems change in communities and organizations.
Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation CommunityApril 6, 2023
As an organization with a vibrant Early Head Start program and a two-generational approach to alleviating poverty, All Our Kin has been a proud partner in Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community. Being part of this group among 20 partnering organizations has given All Our Kin the opportunity to bring its innovative model …

Mom and Son Duo Reflect on Family Prosperity Convening Read More »

Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation CommunityAugust 11, 2022
For many of us with young children at home, the pandemic hasn’t just disrupted our lives — it’s turned them upside down, erasing the boundaries between home and work. We’re seeing more and more stories about parents, especially mothers and specifically mothers in low-wage jobs, struggling to balance being a breadwinner and a caregiver. Only 1 …

Breadwinning and Caregiving Don’t Have to Be Incompatible Read More »

Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation CommunityFebruary 21, 2022
Poverty is the result of poor policy choices. These choices reflect our national values and decide who deserves access to opportunity to achieve their dreams and who does not. This flawed mindset has led to persistent inequities and a hollowing of our shared humanity. Change is possible. The choice is ours.
BlogNovember 2, 2021
In an op-ed co-authored by Aisha Nyandoro of Springboard to Opportunities and Trene Hawkins of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ascend’s Marjorie Sims states the need to honor Black women with bold policies so that future generations can truly thrive. For even as we are achieve historic successes, racist and sexist systems, structures, and narratives persist and prevent our equity and dignity. …

Centering Black women in policy is key to future families’ prosperity Read More »

Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation CommunityJuly 26, 2021
On Tuesday, June 1st, 2021, Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community hosted a panel discussion about the recently proposed federal legislation on paid leave. This webinar presented how and why this proposed legislation matters and shared opportunities to advance paid leave locally and nationally. Watch Now Presenters and Panelists Vicki Shabo – New …

Webinar: Accelerating Paid Leave for Families Read More »

June 3, 2021
Black History Month is a time for celebration and an intentional moment to pay tribute to generations of Black Americans who have contributed to our society. It is also a time to look inward, asking if the work that we are doing today helps to further advance Black communities, or if it instead stifles. Is what we are doing enough to break through rigid obstacles and nurture an environment that truly gives space for families and individuals to meet their full promise and live their values; and in turn, have communities thrive?
BlogFebruary 26, 2021
In the last year, families have endured and adapted to myriad unknowns, and too often they’ve had to figure it out without basic support and resources. Yet, as new research conducted by Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) discovered, there is widespread support across political ideologies for solutions that …

Centering Families in Policy Solutions in 2021 and Beyond: What Parents Know Read More »

BlogFebruary 8, 2021
Earlier this year, Ascend launched the Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community, our initiative for breakthrough innovations and collaborations that position families to reach educational success, economic prosperity, health and well-being. As we look toward 2021, opportunities and challenges abound for work-family supportive policies – namely, the future of child care. More than ever, families are …

Family Prosperity: 10 Minutes with a Leading Early Childhood Researcher on Home-Based Care and Opportunities Ahead Read More »

BlogNovember 9, 2020
Our world has changed. The wave of uncertainty touched off by the pandemic is becoming an ongoing process of relearning how to live, work and care for our families. A powerful national movement for racial justice around the world is making clear that we need a new social contract. Our nation faces a reckoning with …

Announcing: New Community of Family Prosperity Innovators Read More »

BlogJuly 28, 2020
[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ admin_label=”section” _builder_version=”3.22″ custom_padding=”9px|||||” global_colors_info=”{}”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row” _builder_version=”3.25″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” global_colors_info=”{}”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.25″ custom_padding=”|||” global_colors_info=”{}” custom_padding__hover=”|||”][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.27.4″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” global_colors_info=”{}”] Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community is a collaborative, multilayered community that develops breakthrough innovations to strengthen parents’ and families’ access to employment opportunities, economic security, and health and …

Family Prosperity Advisors: Second Phase Read More »

July 26, 2020
Smiling Family With Parents Giving Children Piggyback Rides In Garden At Home
Contact: Lindsay Broyhill Ascend at the Aspen Institute lindsay.broyhill@aspeninstitute.org  Bold Leaders to Advance Innovative Strategies for Families’ Health and Economic Prosperity  Aspen Institute Launches New Partners and Advisors in Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community  Washington, DC – Ascend at the Aspen Institute is proud to announce the new partners and advisors the Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community, Ascend’s initiative for breakthrough innovations and collaborations that position families to reach educational …

Bold Leaders to Advance Innovative Strategies for Families’ Health and Economic Prosperity Read More »

BlogJuly 22, 2020
The last few weeks and months have been profoundly challenging, and illuminated clearly the need for a sea change in the way our country engages with and supports families and communities with low incomes. At Ascend, we are particularly focused on deepening and elevating our efforts to address structural racism, including how systemic inequities impact …

New Report: Principles and Innovations to Drive Family Prosperity Read More »

BlogJune 16, 2020
Family prosperity isn’t what it could be in America – and we are looking for partners ready to change that in meaningful and groundbreaking ways. The Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community (Family Prosperity) is a learning and action community committed to finding the most effective and innovative solutions to problems that affect working families with …

RFP Submission Guidelines for Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community Read More »

BlogApril 2, 2020