How organisations can better support working parents
In 2012 the Queen announced government plans to improve parental leave, allowing parents to share maternity/paternity leave. At the time, some business leaders were concerned these flexible ideas were bad for business. In 2014, retail vouchers and healthcare benefits were prioritised as family-friendly benefits. More recently organisations have introduced advanced Child-friendly policies, but even in 2018 ideas were still in their infancy.
According to government statistics, pre-pandemic, 75 percent of mothers and 92 percent of fathers with dependent children work in the UK. The research revealed that parents and carers were more likely to feel like they don't have enough time in the day or feel stressed. Thirty percent of parents said that long working hours, difficult working schedules or demanding jobs created obstacles when fulfilling childcare responsibilities. Eight percent of mothers changed their jobs to suit their childcare needs, and almost one-quarter of mothers reduced their working hours. Forty percent of parents said it was difficult or impossible to take days off to look after children.
Working from home has enabled many parents to juggle aspects such as the school run. However, this month many parents will be asked to return to the office, some will enjoy the perks of Hybrid working, but others may struggle to adjust. Company culture and job satisfaction have been key topics during the pandemic, and ‘the great resignation’ is a phrase currently being used to describe the millions of people who have decided to seek a new role during the pandemic. However, a report by Harvey Nash Group found that only 38 percent of organisations have revisited their employee offer to make it more attractive. So, what can organisations do to support working parents?
A family-friendly policy does not just mean generous parental leave. Policies can also include extra time to ease new parents back into work and days off for children’s medical appointments, illnesses, and key educational events. Adoption, fertility, prenatal appointments, and breast pumping are other aspects to consider when re-visiting your policy. Parents and carers should be supported for the first 18 years of their child’s life, whether the children are biological or adoptive, so policies should consider the needs of different ages.
It would help to consider whether your policy is representative. Modern families include single parents, same-sex couples, parents living separately, extended families, and more. With an ageing population and as social norms change, the age of the typical parent has also increased. The primary caregiver is a concept that is quickly becoming outdated. For example, Grandparents can play a huge part in the early development and care of children, so grandparental policies are growing in popularity.
Employees should be able to progress with their careers and be present for their children. Building a culture that promotes and enables flexible working is equally important as creating policies. Think about activities, events, and gifts that foster a family-first environment.
Examples of companies with a family friendly culture
This San Jose-based IT company topped the Great Places to Work for Parents list and Flexjob’s Best Flexible Companies for Working Parents ranking in the US. It offers an exceptional work-life balance for parents with its gender-neutral parental leave policy (which includes grandparents and other caregivers) plus egg storage and surrogacy reimbursement and genetic testing, as well as extra time off for emergencies.
At Aviva, all parents receive 26 weeks leave on full basic pay. All 16,000 employees are eligible for this, regardless of sexual orientation and gender, and whether the employee has given birth, opted for surrogacy or adoption.
Vodafone offers 16 weeks fully paid leave to new parents, plus the option to take 6 months of working part-time while still receiving full pay, helping new parents to settle into parenthood.
At GoDaddy, all new parents are offered 12 weeks of paid parental leave, which birthing mothers receiving an additional six weeks for recovery. Employees also receive subsidised childcare, adoption assistance, and fertility assistance. GoDaddy offices also feature lactation rooms.
Companies have access to a wider talent pool of multi-skilled people with rich social and emotional skills by catering for working parents. Not only this, but when parents and carers within companies feel supported, it boosts morale and productivity by promoting inclusivity and showing employees they’re valued.
It is important to note that while companies should seek to support working parents and their children, other employees without children will also be seeking more flexibility and support. Singletons may not need flexibility to look after their children, but they’ll have different needs that require support, such as extended families, pets, or hobbies. As they live alone, their colleagues would most likely be the people they talk to day to day. Empty nesters may also require flexible schedules to look after elderly parents. Employee benefits should be inclusive and not favour one lifestyle choice over another; benefits should be tailored to suit multiple generations.