How to Help Working Parents – 4 Common Scenarios
Working parents have it rough. Balancing soccer games, budget meetings, school plays, and conference calls is challenging, to say the least. In fact, 75% of employees wish they had more time to spend with their children. As an employer, there are several ways you can help working parents juggle it all.
Life doesn’t stop for parents when they walk into work. It’s reasonable to expect a certain level of professionalism from all employees, whether they have children or not. We need to realize, however, that there are times when family needs to come first.
By creating a culture that supports working parents, you’ll improve retention rates and attract top talent. Here are four types of parents you can help.
The New Parent
New parents are often excited, tired, and constantly worried about their new bundle of joy. Returning to work after having a child is often difficult. Parents may find themselves at a crossroads in their career and parental obligations. This is an important time for an organization to provide the needed support to avoid losing top talent.
As an employer, you can offer support before the baby arrives. Encourage your employee to schedule an appointment with your HR department. They can review maternity/paternity leave options and discuss how the employee wants to transition back to work. Offering parents a phase-in period for their return could also help ease them back into work while adjusting to the new daycare situation. Also, it’s a great time to remind them of any benefits they can take advantage of at this time, such as short-term disability and the company’s EAP.
If you feel inclined to do so, host a small baby shower during work hours to show support and once the baby has arrived, send your congratulations. Don’t pressure an employee to come back sooner than discussed. Offer the same level of support to every parent on your team. This includes those who adopt and those who are growing their families after their firstborn.
The Adjusting Parent
Adjusting to changes is part of life. For the working parent, adjustments could mean heading back to work after having children, navigating a difficult divorce, or simply being committed to a significant change happening in their personal life.
There are several ways you can help working parents who are adjusting to change in their lives. The way you do so may depend on their unique circumstances. For example, a parent returning to the job after several weeks, months, or even years away from the job will appreciate a one-on-one discussion about their goals and concerns. If they’re worried about finding affordable daycare, your company’s EAP can help.
Whatever the situation may be, merely letting your employee know that you’re understanding and available during their season of change makes all the difference.
The Soccer Parent
Parents with school-aged children are often juggling soccer schedules, play rehearsal slots, and parent-teacher conferences. With limited time off and multiple children, this can mean parents are stuck choosing which events they can attend. As an employer, understanding that there is only one soccer championship game or one opening night with your child as the lead in the school play is not just empathetic. It is hard to find.
Flexible schedules benefit both employees and employers and can be one of the simplest strategies to support working parents. When possible, allow employees to adjust their schedule so they can complete their work while still being able to cheer from the sideline at their child’s game. Can they work remotely? Can they come in earlier or perhaps work over the weekend instead? Work with your employees to find if there are ways to keep productivity moving while letting them be more active in their child’s hobbies and accomplishments.
The Overburdened Parent
Parenting and its associated hurdles can sometimes prove to be too much for some parents. If one of your employees is juggling life and work with an ill child or struggling as a single parent, let them know they’re not alone.
If your employee is struggling financially, organize a fundraiser, or pay them their holiday bonus earlier in the year. Consider temporary flexible hours or a reduction in job responsibilities until they’re under less mental stress. Have your HR department go over potential solutions. For example, if your company qualifies, employees are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for a sick child or family member.
As the common saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. Let your employees know you want to be a part of their village. No matter what stage of parenting they’re in, knowing they have support at their place of work is a priceless benefit. If you’re not sure how to help working parents, enlist the help of your HR department or ask for suggestions from employees themselves.
By creating a work culture that embraces and supports working parents, you’ll improve retention, job satisfaction, engagement, and make a positive difference in the lives of your employees and their children.