Millennials may not be waiting to start families as early as their parents, but the truth is more than a million of them have children each year. In addition to this, there are plenty of Gen-X parents with minor children to care for. There are even a notable number of boomers who are raising grandchildren and great grandchildren either full or part time. These parents have unique needs, and businesses that fail to meet them risk alienating a large portion of the workforce. This would be a shame as creating a parent friendly work culture benefits all, and isn’t costly.
Challenge Your Assumptions About Parental Roles
Messaging matters. Parents want to know that their needs and circumstances are of concern to their employers. They want to know that employers understand that the well being of their family impacts their productivity and performance in the workplace. As an employer, the messages you send on this have great impact.
One particularly important message to spread is that all parents are important. If your communications to your employees about family friendly policies and benefits focus only on husbands and wives, or they solely emphasize mothers that can be a problem.
When writing and communicating policies or implementing them, it’s imperative to keep in mind that the families in your workplace may not be traditional family units. They also may not prioritize mom as primary caregiver. In fact, millennials largely see paternal leave is an important priority.
Google stands out as a company that is particularly friendly to dads. While paid paternity leave isn’t unusual, Google takes things one step further. They not only include compensation, but continued benefits, stock options, and vesting.
Get Manager And Supervisor Buy-In
Imagine being a parent working for your company. You read through policy documents, and find some benefit designed to make the workplace a bit friendlier for you. It’s two floating days per school year that you can take off with pay to attend parent teacher conferences or other child related events. That’s wonderful! There’s a field trip that you would love to chaperone, so you approach your direct manager about scheduling the day off.
All of this is great if that manager is aware of the policy, knows how to implement it, and has been given the resources to cover your absence. Not so much if the manager sees the policy as wasteful or encouraging lazy behavior. Not so much if the manager not so subtly discourages workers from using the benefit, or they are frustrated because the policy doesn’t take their staffing needs into consideration.
When you create parent friendly policies, it’s important to bring managers and supervisors into the loop. They must know how to implement these policies, and be able to voice concerns about the ways in which these policies can impact their ability to run successful teams. It may be necessary to add information about these policies to management training.
Educate Parents on Available Resources
Sometimes, in the midst of managing family life and trying to earn a living, life for parents can become stressful and difficult to manage. They may need help beyond what is made available in the standard benefits package. The problem is that while there are many resources available to help families, many are not aware of them. Worse, when they are dealing with a crisis, they may not have the time or resources to do much in the way of research.
Employers can help by acting as a source of assistance and education. One step employers can take is to encourage parents to connect with Jobcentre Plus for up to date information. Something as simple as creating a bulletin of family friendly resources can do wonders to create a work environment that is supportive of parents.
Offer Flexibility to All Employees
One thing that employers can do to create a parent friendly culture actually benefits all workers. This is offering flexibility. Parents who are able to telecommute, bank time off, or split time between work and home, often fare better than those who cannot. By giving workers this benefit, they are better able to stay productive and make the most of the time that they work. This can also help to reduce the presenteeism that occurs when parents are physically at work, but constantly distracted by concerns related to home. In addition to this, because this is a benefit that can be offered to all employees, there’s no risk of accusations of favoritism from workers who don’t have families.
Conclusion: Parent Friendly Workplaces Benefit All
Employers who seek to make life easier for parents can increase productivity and reduce turnover. Even better, these policies benefit the community at large. Parents who are best able to ensure their children’s needs are met are more likely to volunteer and be active in school and other activities. This ensures a healthier, better adjusted workforce in the future.
Independant inbound marketing consultant with 5+ years in the industry, including coaching and developing e-learning courses. Bylines at the Huffington Post, Tech Cocktail, Hackerspace by Lifehacker among others.