Summer is coming to an end as parents pack up the beach toys and prepare for the new school year ahead. From meeting teachers to arranging childcare to managing extracurricular activities — back to school means back to routine, but it also requires juggling schedules and work-life balance for working parents.
In 2018, 63% of married-couple families with children had both parents employed. As this number continues to grow, support for working parents is needed now more than ever. But what does that support look like? Flexibility to leave work early to pick your child up from daycare? Additional PTO for when your child is sick? Or maybe a working parents employee resource group to connect and learn from others? The answer is all of the above — and more. The question is: as a company, where do you start?
Show working parents you care
Care is essential to employee well-being, engagement and the overall employee experience. It’s also a great place to start when it comes to supporting your employees who are parents. We know that employees who feel they have higher well-being also:
- Enjoy their work more
- Are less likely to leave
- Are more loyal to their teams
- Are more likely to recommend their organization
Here are four ways you can show working parents you care, plus tips to take action today:
1. Offer flexible work schedules that work for employees, not against
A flexible work schedule can mean different things to different people. For working parents, it can mean the difference of saving on childcare, spending quality time with family and reducing the stress and anxiety that come with managing both personal and professional life. According to FlexJob’s survey of 1,100 parents with children under 18 living at home, 40% of parents who took a break in their career after having kids wanted to keep working but their job was too inflexible to stay in the workforce.
Companies are beginning to realize the need for flexible work — and the demand for flexible work environments only continues to grow.
How to make it happen: Leave behind the traditional office rules and allow for some leniency. Trust and respect go a long way for employees — when you give a little, you can get a lot in return. Encourage employees to work from home when a child is sick, leave the office early for a high school basketball game or take an extra 15 minutes at lunch to wrap up a doctor’s appointment.
2. Don’t waste their time
Time is precious. For parents, it’s everything. Time-management is already a high priority for working moms and dads, and as a company it’s crucial to respect the time of your employees. Focus on scheduling meetings during appropriate work hours and save communication for the next day if it’s not urgent. You can also make it convenient for working parents to tackle other parts of their day while at the office — offer a free gym at headquarters, deliver lunch once a week, designate a meeting room as a “mother’s room” or “resource room.”
How to make it happen: Schedule an all-staff email to send the next morning rather than hitting send all late at night. Cut back on hour-long meetings and implement a 45-minute meeting policy. If a meeting runs over, there’s an extra 15 minutes to spare as a buffer. This allows time for employees to run to the restroom or grab a snack, which helps keep work a little more human.
3. Establish a working parent ERG
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are powerful — sometimes more than benefits and perks offered by a company. These inclusive, employee-led groups offer a place for employees with similar backgrounds or experiences to come together to share their stories, connect, swap insights, tips and tricks. For parents, a dedicated working parent ERG can provide the support many are looking for every day at work through others who have “been there” or are going through the same life experience at this moment. As a company, not only offering these groups, but supporting and listening to the feedback from ERGs can make a huge difference in knowing what your employees need.
How to make it happen: Advocate for more ERGs dedicated to working parents and tie the importance to key business results. ERGs are for the employees, so they should be led by the employees. Encourage one employee who is close to or knowledgeable about the ERG to deliver regular communications through your employee program, set agendas and brainstorm topic discussions.
4. Focus on mindfulness
Stress levels are at an all-time high during back to school season. With the help of their company’s encouragement and support, working parents can incorporate mindfulness into their daily routines to ease stress. Mindfulness requires practice, so make it available to employees to practice every day. As a company, mindfulness activities for employees (especially working parents) are a great opportunity to show your employees you care, while improving decision making, focus, creative thinking and helping employees find their purpose.
How to make it happen: Build mindfulness into employees’ daily routine by offering mindfulness training as a part of your well-being program. Activities focused on setting intentions, reflecting on priorities or even 15 minutes dedicated to meditation can reduce stress and regulate focus.
According to a survey by Indeed, 72% of moms and 53% of dads say they receive no support at work during back-to-school time. This year as families head back to school, make the effort to focus on working parents’ needs and how as a company, you can best support them and show you care.