While the life of a working parent can be deeply fulfilling, it has its challenges. Without the right support from employers, these difficulties can lead to burnout and low-productivity. Working in partnership with parents at your organisation is crucial if you want to maintain motivated employees and attract the best talent.
7 in 10 families in the UK have both parents in employment. That’s a significant slice of the working population, so not catering to them can be detrimental to your business when it comes to retaining and hiring the best people.
The following approaches to support working parents are both practical and actionable and can transform the wellbeing of your employees, while boosting your business.
1. Flexible working
Flexibility has been crucial during the pandemic and there is no reason to stop parents working in this way once the in-person office returns. Offering this style of work helps the creation of a family-friendly environment, and supports parents to successfully balance their professional life with the most important job they’ll ever have, being a parent.
Parents need the space to take their child to a doctor’s appointment at midday and return to work and not feel they will be judged for it. They deserve to be trusted to get the job done at a time that suits them, and in return you’ll have loyal employees who want to give their best to your business.
Offering flexible working for parents is also about improving productivity. With more parents citing they feel they can work more productively while doing so. The bottom line is that as long as employees are producing results, they should be able to manage their own time.
2. Listen to your employees’ needs
Many parents hesitate discussing their personal needs with their employer for fear of not seeming committed to their work. The transition to parenthood is testing without having workplace demands placed on top. Managers can provide effective parental support by simply opening up the space for conversations around the difficulties employees are facing.
Listening to your employees’ parental needs is more than just sending out a survey. It involves actively reaching out to them and understanding their unique needs, especially when it comes to new parents who are only just starting to figure out how they will manage the intersection of their work and home lives.
An open-door policy when it comes to parental issues is an easy way to make employees feel comfortable discussing their parental responsibilities. On top of this, identifying someone to act as a figurehead new parents can talk to about their experience will further help them to feel supported and heard.
Listening to your employees’ individual needs and being mindful of their schedules is a key way to prevent burnout and improve employee engagement. Supporting new parents will ease their minds of job security and help to mitigate any perinatal mental health issues.
3. Lead from the top down
Having senior leaders speak candidly about their own struggles regarding parenting and mental health helps to encourage fellow employees to feel understood. This could be achieved through managers sharing their experience via a panel discussion or a written article. In turn, employees are more likely to connect with their line manager when they need support, since they have seen those higher up in the company speak openly.
Setting a visible example to working parents helps them to feel more comfortable making time for their children. The manager who leaves early to watch their child’s play, or who openly discusses their own struggles helps to remove some of the stigma that other parents may feel.
4. Signpost to reliable sources
Your business might already have some helpful tools and resources for working parents in place, but our research shows that many parents, especially fathers, are unaware of them. Smart businesses make sure to consistently sign-post employees to their existing resources, as well as reliable external services, such as the NHS. Through this approach, many issues working parents are facing, such as burnout and perinatal mental illness, can be identified, prevented from progressing and addressed.
Equipping your workforce with access to reliable and intelligent tools such as Kinhub means they receive around the clock care from a host of child and wellbeing experts, alongside targeted suggestions to boost their wellbeing. Supporting your employees at every stage of their parental journey just makes good business sense.
5. Equal parental leave
With the division of household labour having changed significantly in recent years, many dads and partners are more involved in their children’s lives and shared parental leave is more in demand. Parenthood is a job done by mums, dads and LGBTQ+ parents, including those who become parents through adoption or surrogacy, so ensuring your policies encompass all parents is crucial to achieve good parental wellness.
Significant changes in non-birth partners’ hormone levels after the arrival of their baby can increase their chances of postnatal depression, and partners with good mental health are instrumental in helping to reduce the impact of maternal mental health issues. As such, paternity leave’s benefits extend to dads, mums, children and businesses alike.
Every parent deserves time off following the arrival of their new child, and implementing equal parental leave policies at your organisation not only has huge benefits for working families, but translates into improved employee productivity and satisfaction.
Employers who work to create a healthy work-life balance for their employees will reap the benefits of higher retention, recognition, morale and workplace productivity. A supportive working environment will include leaders who set the tone for a more compassionate and flexible space that understands each parent’s unique needs. We’ve outlined some of the most effective ways to actively support your working parents, but it’s also important to recognise that you might not have all the resources available to handle it all on your own.