Business Case 1 – Establishing

Activity Description:


To develop students’ capacities to present a “business case” for work-family responsive practices.


  1. Have students review the page “Return on Investment” on the Work and Family Researchers Network to help orient them to the concepts “returns on investment” and “dual agendas,” as well as “the business case” perspective
  2. Have students identify one workplace practice or public policy that would address a specific work-life issue of their own choosing. To guide their selection, suggest that they identify a practice or policy that appear on the list of “Topics Pages” or in the “Work and Family Encyclopedia”
  3. Provide the following instructions to students:

You are to write a paper (suggested at 7-10 pages) that is intended to establish the business case for employer responsive practices.  You should assume your audience is a diverse group of employers who may have some interest in issues such as social justice, gender equality, and the well-being of future generations.  However their primary interest is on “the bottom line,” and how any suggested practice may affect their enterprise. They will be a skeptical audience. Unless you can establish your business case, they will assume that your proposal will cost them rather than benefit them, and they will not be inclined to follow your advice. Use the following section headings:

  1. Introduction

Explain a tension between work and family institutions that –  if it is alleviated – has the potential to not only promote better worker, family, social well-being, but also improve organizational performance.  Give some indication of the magnitude of this problem in terms of its impact on workers, their families, and their employers. As you explain these tensions, discuss the unique contributions made by different disciplinary perspectives, such as those held by historians, economists, sociologists, psychologists, etc.

1. Establish the Range of Options

Generate a list of ways that employers may address this concern.  For example, if locating daycare presents concerns for employees, explain the types of resources employers may provide that could alleviate this tension (i.e. onsite daycare, subsidies for daycare, information referral services, paid family leave, etc.).  

2. Establish the Business Case

Expand on one of the options listed above and consider the logistics of how that option might be implemented, the expenses that would likely be involved, and the cost savings or increased profits that might be expected.   For example, if an employer were to provide onsite day care, how much would it cost to establish and run such a center? How many employees would be serviced? And ultimately what would the result be in terms of sales, retention, recruitment of talent, etc.?  If this information is not available, then you can ballpark the figures. Can you establish a business case? If not, establish another option in which such a case can be established.

3. Identify a Case Study

Find a real live case study of a similar program or policy that has been implemented and outline its impact on that company’s “return on investment.” You may find it helpful to look at the case studies presented on the Work and Family Researchers Network.

Activity Source:

Content developed by the Sloan Work and Family Teaching Task Force