How employers can support working parents

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Working Parents Day lands on September 16th, which is why this post is all about how employers can support working parents with managing the work life balance that little bit better.

The work life balance for working parents

If the work life balance wasn’t hard enough, it’s even more difficult when you have your own brood to care for.

Traditionally, women were expected to stay at home with the kids, while the man of the house worked. In the modern world, 89.7% of families have at least one parent employed, if not two. Meaning just about every workplace in the States will have at least a few working parents among their ranks.

Managing a family while also building a career can take an emotional, physical and financial toll on parent workers, and their children. It can feel like there is no extra time to focus on themselves, or to look after their own wellbeing.

Pair that with how difficult it is to find affordable childcare while the entire parent workforce tries to do the same. It’s safe to say that managing personal, work and the kid’s schedules is exhausting.

Parenting and transferrable skills

As with any demographic, working parents have a lot to offer and you can use this to your advantage. Raising children will inevitably improve a person’s skills and help them develop new ones.

Management and sacrifice

In fact, working parents often make great managers. At home, they’re used to making sacrifices in their child’s best interest. In a similar sense, managers that care about their team will do what’s right for their employees and put their interests ahead of their own.

Patience

Parents have an unrivalled level of patience – which is an integral skill for leadership and management. It’s not always about an individual’s success, but more about contributing to a bigger picture. For that, patience is needed.

Empowering

Parents empower and inspire their children to be the best they can be. They’ll encourage them to reach for the stars, follow their dreams, work hard and be kind along the way. This ability to shape and empower people is an impressive skill to bring into the workplace.

Goal setting

Children who feel secure and confident in their abilities, achieve great things. It’s down to the parents to set boundaries and expectations to help them along the way. Team managers will also need to set high expectations for their employees and help them to achieve their own goals.

Negotiating

There’s no better poker face than that of a parent trying to negotiate with a child. Being able to negotiate with children means doing the same with adults will be a no-brainer.

Parents are also great at cleaning up other people’s messes (quite literally), making them a great mediator for the workplace.

How to support working parents as an employer

Even with all the patience in the world, working parents still deserve a little support in the workplace. While they might have all the transferrable skills they need to nail their working day, there may be other things going on that need to take priority.

As such, there are several ways employers can support working parents, to help them navigate the rocky waters of ‘having it all’ (a career and a family).

Offer paid parental leave

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, parents are entitled to 12 weeks of leave when they have a child or adopt. But this leave tends to be unpaid which is less than ideal for new families.

Employers who really appreciate their staff, shouldn’t make starting a family feel like such a financial stress and offer paid parental leave instead. Paternity leave is also becoming a common request for employees, as the father is just as entitled to spend time getting to know their new arrival as the mother.

Companies like Netflix have already jumped on the bandwagon offering paid parental leave for both parties. 

Be flexible with office hours

Both remote workers and working parents can benefit from a flexible work schedule, that allows them to hone in on their most productive times of day. Parents who struggle to manage the school run as well as getting to work for 9am will certainly appreciate the opportunity to head to the office a little later.

There’s also the option to offer staff – parents and non-parents – remote working. This helps everyone in the workforce manage their own work life balance a little better. It’s particularly useful for parents who are struggling to find childcare; they can work from home to care for the little ones without having to reduce their hours and take a pay cut.

Onsite childcare

If there are a fair few working parents in your team and the company is big enough, you might want to consider offering on-site childcare.

Finding affordable and quality childcare is a major challenge for working parents. If you can’t offer flexible or remote working options, allowing families to bring their children to work may be the alternative. Before promoting this however, you should make sure to fully investigate the legalities first. HR outsourcing companies will be able to advise on licensing, liability and vetting childcare providers, so that you know how to proceed.

Implement a wellness program

Everything from a family gym membership to free flu shots can be great incentives for working parents. It can help parents put their own wellness first to avoid burnout or stress-related illness. Of course, non-working parents can take full advantage of the gym memberships, too.

Family events

Work may be the only time working parents get to socialize, so why not extend the invite to the whole family? Christmas work parties and family fun days are the perfect way to acknowledge the other aspects of your employees’ lives. Nights out and afterwork events are often quite difficult for parents to attend, so make the occasion family friendly so nobody has to miss out.

Creating an inclusive and understanding workplace is something that every employer can do. As the majority of the workforce will have other priorities outside of work, offering an open, flexible and appreciative work culture can help you improve staff retention, boost productivity and increase morale.

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