There are currently 11.5 million working parents in Great Britain and it is becoming increasingly important for them to manage their careers along with parental duties. New research suggests that working parents are finding it harder to focus on work-life and care for their children- over 56% have stated that they find the balancing act challenging.
Since the pandemic, there has been a shift in priorities and needs of working parents. In fact, a survey showed that 45% of mothers with children who are 5 years or younger, left their jobs during this time as they had to focus on childcare.
Research has shown that parents are less likely to leave the workforce if companies offer on-site childcare. It can be beneficial for them to balance their work with parental duties when employers understand and offer different ways to support them.
How can you ensure your employees get the support they need?
Actively communicate the support on offer
It’s important for employers to effectively communicate the support they’ve got available for working parents. Not only does this ensure your people understand the support that’s available to them, but also that your company wants them to use the resources that you’re providing. It helps people stay informed about the help they can get without having to start a conversation with their manager.
One simple way to do this is to send company-wide emails to your employees highlighting the various support programs, policies and resources available. You should include details on how to access them and who to contact for more information. If you have a company intranet or employee portal, creating a dedicated section that has all the information related to support for parents can be helpful.
Employers can also consider conducting workshops and town hall meetings to discuss available support options. This will give your people a chance to engage and offer some insight into what they require.
Create an open culture
People need to know that their employer understands working parents’ needs and responsibilities. Creating an environment where your employees feel comfortable discussing their caregiving responsibilities allows you to better understand and support your people.
Normalising conversations around childcare and parenting encourages employees to seek the support they need without any fear of judgment or rejection.
Here are some ways you can create an open culture at work:
- Encourage open communication: Make time in 1:1s to discuss caregiving responsibilities and challenges.
- Lead by example: Managers and leaders should openly share their own experiences as working parents or carers, demonstrating empathy and understanding. This encourages others to feel comfortable doing the same.
- Provide training and resources: Offer training sessions and resources on topics like work-life integration, time management and stress reduction. These initiatives can help employees feel supported in their rolesand give them the opportunity to raise any questions or concerns.
Seek feedback from employees who have children
It’s important to find out what kinds of support your employees find the most helpful. By actively listening to employees’ voices, employers gain valuable insights into the specific challenges, needs and preferences of their workforce. This not only ensures that resources and policies align with employees’ expectations but also empowers them by actively involving them in the decision-making process.
A great way to do this is through questionnaires, focus groups and regular check-ins. Schedule individual meetings with employees who are working parents or carers to have personalised discussions. A great way to do this is with participants who volunteer and are comfortable sharing their experiences.
What support can businesses offer parents?
Flexible working options
Flexible working can be provided in a range of different ways, such as allowing your employees to work condensed hours or the opportunity to work from home. For businesses that can’t be fully flexible with working hours, there are still other ways to provide flexibility. For example, allowing your people time off to attend necessary appointments rather than having to use annual leave.
Offer family wellbeing benefits
Many employee benefit schemes offer helpful support to working parents and carers. For example, our Employee Assistance Programme includes access to a 24/7 Advice and Information Line as well as 24/7 online GP appointments for employees and their dependent children. One of the optional extras is Eldercare, a service that provides advice on care homes and caring for the elderly.
Providing helpful resources and information for your employees with parental responsibilities takes the burden of research off their shoulders. This could either be free online resources, such as information on tax-free childcare, or a webinar or workshop with practical advice. It can also be helpful to create a support group within the company for parents and carers who want to join, giving them the opportunity to share advice and support each other.
Having a career helps people feel fulfilled and offering tailored support that helps them with their specific concerns is an important way for businesses to show that they care. As employers, being receptive to working parents’ needs and implementing mindful policies can aid in them achieving the desirable balance between work and life.
Vicky has over 20 years' experience in client-centric HR environments, and is a solution orientated leader with a natural ability to build relationships across all levels. Vicky has a responsibility to deliver Westfield Health's strategic vision, and enjoys sharing insight into her experience in finding a balance between engaging employees and preventing burnout.