How Employers Can Better Support Parents at Work

In today’s modern workplace, a supportive culture for working parents is strongly desired. Parents want to work at a company that is understanding and flexible when schedules change due to family matters, considerate of their well-being, and helpful in finding quality childcare. Studies show employers who provide support for working parents leads to an increase in productivity, retention, better morale, and above-average financial performance. Here are some ways your company might be able to better support parents at work. 

#1 Be Understanding and Flexible 

The traditional 9am-5pm schedule isn’t always best for parents. Consider revising company policies to allow fixed alternative hours or working from home when needed. There will be parent-teacher conferences, dentist appointments, missed school busses, and forgotten lunches. Being flexible with schedules will generate the supportive culture parents desire in the workplace.

#2 Have Regular Conversations  

Invite open conversations about what you can do to help working parents better balance workplace expectations and family demands. Simply showing them you care can go a long way. A survey involving over 1,000 U.S. working parents revealed that 41% don’t believe they could be successful in their role without the support of management.

Stay current on school schedules. If half days at the end of the school year are inhibiting parents from coming into the office that week, consider organizing a temporary back-up daycare service.

#3 Make Life Easier Where You Can  

Offer childcare solutions if possible. Providing back-up daycare or discounted/reimbursed childcare are the top two things working parents said employers could do to help them do their jobs, according to a recent survey from Workplace Solutions.

Help parents get more items checked off their lists so they can enjoy time with their families outside the office. On-site fitness centers make it easier to squeeze in a workout before work, after work, or even during lunch. If your building doesn’t have space for this, try partnering with a local gym to offer your employees a discounted membership.

Results from the Bright Horizons Modern Family Index survey show 51% of paid time off is spent dealing with family responsibilities instead of taking vacations, visiting family, or relaxing. Explore ways your company might be able to take some family demands off the shoulders of working parents so they can use their paid time off for what it’s truly intended for. One idea might be a grocery delivery service discount or reimbursement.

#4 Encourage Well-Rounded, Healthy Lifestyles 

Remind parents the importance of taking care of themselves. In order to tackle daily work responsibilities and family management, self-care is a must.

Encourage overall health and well-being by implementing a wellness strategy. Offer resources for employees to learn about healthy eating, stress management, and the importance of exercise. A variety of classes such as beginner yoga or healthy cooking may be of interest.

Your company’s wellness strategy should include support for mental wellness. According to the Gallup Index, the combination of work and family obligations cause working parents to feel short on time and stressed, more so than those who don’t work or have children. Parents at all stages from pre-natal to empty nesting could utilize strategies for stress management and adapting to change.

#5 Think About Travel 

Traveling can be difficult for parents. First, determine if it is imperative they attend in person or if a conference call would be just as effective. If travel is necessary, carefully plan the trip and pay attention to details.

Allowing parents time to make special arrangements for their family while they are away won’t have them worrying about who’s picking up the kids or how dinner is being handled. Instead, they will be able to focus on the business trip at hand.

#6 Support ALL Parents and Caregivers   

All families require different needs, so it’s important to create supportive policies that are all-inclusive.

Parents aren’t the only ones who provide care. Some employees care for parents, grandparents, aunts, cousins, etc. and need policies to support their family responsibilities as well.

The Bottom Line

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences in life, but it takes hard work. If employers can be understanding, flexible, and encourage overall well-being, working parents are sure to deliver their best work.