It can be a struggle to strike a balance between career and family life. Managing both roles is challenging, especially when employers don’t fully comprehend the unique worries and constraints faced by working parents.

Whether your employees are seeking flexibility for school runs or assistance with nursery expenses, businesses have the potential and responsibility to do better for working parents.

Beyond the conventional offerings like flexible work arrangements, it’s crucial to explore practical ways that businesses of all sizes can support their staff effectively.

Tailoring wellbeing benefits

When it comes to wellbeing benefits, one size doesn’t fit all.

This is especially true for parents dealing with health complications, disabilities, and special needs, as well as single parents lacking the support other families have. It’s not a universal situation, and businesses should consider tailoring benefits to ensure fairness for all.

Beyond typical considerations like school runs or sick days, companies often overlook challenges faced by parents attending regular medical or hospital appointments for their children. It’s crucial to acknowledge that using holiday days for these appointments may not provide the genuine downtime parents need. To address these diverse needs, businesses, especially SMEs, should involve employees in decision-making.

Interestingly, companies with exemplary family-friendly policies are often led by parents, making this a crucial consideration in job searches and interviews.

Keeping promises

Companies often boast about their flexibility and support for working parents, a trend that has only intensified in the wake of COVID, where the focus on work-life balance has become more pronounced. Nevertheless, the crucial question remains: Are these promises actually kept? And how are individuals treated when they seek such flexibility?

In sectors like sales, particularly in recruitment, flexibility is often presented as a key attraction. Unfortunately, the reality for many falls short of the advertised ideal, leading to feelings of guilt among those who require flexibility. It’s imperative to adopt a mature, fair, and compassionate approach. As long as employees fulfil their responsibilities without exploiting flexibility, there should be no room for questioning.

For those consistently delivering results, working diligently, and adding value, flexibility becomes not just a perk but a necessity. Failing to prioritise the wellbeing of staff can have consequences, especially considering the current competitive landscape where numerous companies are fighting for talent. In 2024, candidates, particularly working parents, prioritise a supportive work environment.

Data found in the 2023 TechNET Digital Salary Survey reinforces this shift, revealing that a substantial 57% of respondents prioritise ‘more remote working opportunities’ as the deciding factor when choosing between roles. Notably, ‘highest salary’ ranks second, indicating that employees value flexibility over financial compensation.

Supporting your team financially

Do you have a financial initiative in place for parents? If not, it’s time to make a change. Implementing a workplace nursery benefit can be particularly attractive to full-time employees seeking assistance with nursery fees while also benefiting employers.

Through salary sacrifice, your staff can make substantial savings on nursery fees at a facility of their choice, cutting down on taxes and National Insurance contributions. Additionally, the funds saved can be reinvested by the nurseries to enhance amenities for children, including toys and gardens – a mutually beneficial arrangement.

This type of benefit is well-received by SMEs that may not have the financial capacity to offer higher salaries but can explore alternative avenues to support the well-being of their working employees.

Extending parental leave

In the United Kingdom, statutory maternity leave extends up to 52 weeks, while paternity leave remains a minimal two weeks. It is disheartening to witness parents, especially fathers, miss out on this special time with their children – a time that you can never get back.

Recognising the significance of family time, businesses are increasingly implementing extended parental leave policies, which are proving attractive to both current employees and potential job seekers. For instance, the popular insurance company AVIVA leads by example, providing six months of fully paid leave to its employees and setting a standard for other major corporations.

However, for parents who encountered challenges in managing empathy and flexibility during their initial parental leave, this situation may regrettably discourage them from having more children.

Encouraging boundaries

It is crucial to foster an environment where your employees feel at ease establishing and communicating understandable boundaries, particularly during life milestones such as expanding their family.

Recognising that there may be occasions when employees need to adjust their schedules to accommodate family needs, businesses can demonstrate support by offering flexibility in childcare arrangements and promoting effective communication. By embracing these measures, your team is more likely to feel not only supported but also empowered to maintain their productivity and well-being and thrive in their role.

Small changes, big impact

Even small adjustments in how companies support working parents can make a huge difference. By offering family-friendly benefits and prioritising the needs of parents, businesses become more attractive, welcoming, and even more competitive.

Everyone deserves a chance to grow in their career while balancing family life, and these simple changes pave the way for that.

Cydnie Maude
Cydnie Maude
Senior Business Development Manager at Technet Digital | + posts

Cydnie brings over 9 years of experience in recruiting, specialising in connecting outstanding talent with top global companies. Juggling a successful career in recruitment with her role as a devoted mother of two, she gracefully manages both her professional and personal life.