working-parent
Posted on: January 17th, 2022

Now more than ever, employers have an increased motivation to retain existing employees and recruit new ones. That includes everyone from Millennials to working parents. Parents have been hit especially hard with the demands the pandemic has placed on them, such as hybrid and online school and children needing to quarantine—and that is on top of the usual stress of parenting! In order to support working parents, employers can offer perks and establish programs that will reduce the strain on working moms and dads, as well as other employees.

While the labor force participation numbers decreased in 2020, the majority of people with children are working or looking for work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2020 figures for parents with children under the age of 18 include 71.2 percent of women and 92.3 percent of men who are active workforce participants. To encourage their continued employment, providing parents with flexibility, boundaries, backup, and stress relief can contribute to better retention rates and health.

Set Work Boundaries

It can be stressful for employees to feel like they are on call at all hours to answer emails and other work-related requests. By setting work hours as well as communication hours, your company can release that pressure, giving parents more non-work time to decompress and leave work at work. Some companies have implemented strict policies to not answer emails overnight or on weekends. If possible, you might consider limiting when web-based meetings can be scheduled, as well. By having set hours for when people can and should work, parents can more easily manage their children’s activities, homework, and so on. Strong work boundaries help nurture a family friendly company culture, and they can enhance productivity while people are on the job.

Be Flexible

As more and more employees look for ways to ease their workload and stress, employer flexibility becomes an important part of company culture. That can mean allowing time for doctor appointments for them and their kids. If possible, can your company support remote work? One or more days per week of working from home (WFH) can make a big difference in a working parent’s life. This will reduce their commute time, allowing them to spend more time with their family. To support flexible work options, you may need to take additional steps to provide equipment, Internet, and phone for employees.

Cross Train

Want to know a good way to make sure people feel comfortable being absent from work for vacations, illness, or sick kids? Ensure that your staff is cross trained. The pandemic has forced many companies to implement more rigorous cross training as part of supporting all employees and sustaining continuity of service. Cross-trained staff can more easily fill in for each other when absences become necessary. This can reduce parents’ stress prior to and before taking a family vacation or family leave for a new baby—or for unexpected illnesses in children or spouses.

Create a Private Space for Stress Relief

Even before the new stressors brought on by the pandemic, many employers had started to take mental health more seriously. What can your company do to promote better mental health? Can you offer on-site relaxation, mindfulness, or yoga classes or workshops? If you have an empty office available, turning that into a private space where people can relax, make a private call, or pump breast milk can be a nice addition to the perks for parents. When they come back from having a baby, nursing moms can feel more at ease with a private, clean space to do what they need to do to provide nutrition for their baby. If a new dad is overtired, he could regain his productivity with a quick nap.

Working parents make up the majority of today’s workforce. Take the time to consider how you can enhance your workplace to be more sensitive to the stresses working parents experience.