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Vivvi

Joie de Vivvi

10/18/2021

How to Design a Workplace For Working Parents

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It is fair to say that not every workplace can be described as “parent-inclusive”. Companies need to make changes to their workplace to ensure it is fully welcoming of all employees – those with children and those without. Below, we look at the main questions that companies should ask themselves when designing a more inclusive workplace for caregivers. 

Is Your Workplace Truly Parent-Inclusive?

The pandemic showed many employers that company policies and workplaces aren’t always suited to caregiving employees. Your company may already have a dedicated employee resource group (ERG) or a lactation room for working moms, but a parent-inclusive workplace involves much more than this. 

Working parents are struggling and this isn’t a new issue. Before the pandemic, the high cost of childcare meant that many parents were unable to gain access to these services in the first place. Introduce the closure of schools, stay-at-home orders, remote work, and social distancing and you have millions of parents wondering how they were going to juggle their responsibilities. 

According to a Catalyst survey, 41% of working parents in the last year feared they would be penalized for having childcare responsibilities. While an astonishing 39% were afraid to take advantage of company benefits in case they got terminated for doing so. These statistics show that not every working parent feels that their place of work is truly supportive of their needs. 

For companies to be able to retain working parents as they return to the office, big conversations need to happen internally. Leaders must analyze their current workplace and identify areas for improvement. This means listening to your employees about what policies and resources they need to feel supported. 

Top Areas Leaders Should Be Addressing When Designing Workplace Culture

A hybrid working environment that is supportive of its working parents should focus on three core areas: flexibility, benefits, and workplace culture. Previously, we’ve spoken about successful parent-inclusive workplace strategies that companies can implement. Yet, before that happens you must understand how to identify what needs to change within your organization. 

So, how do you go about doing that? Let’s have a look at the top questions that need to be considered when it comes to workplace culture and design. 

Flexibility

Working parents need flexibility now more than ever before – and they aren’t afraid to go looking for it. Many employees are demanding that flexible work arrangements become a core element of company culture. Having the ability to work remotely and on flexible schedules gives employees greater control over their work-life balance. 

The answers to these questions can help you understand whether you are truly offering working parents flexibility in their jobs: 

  • How does your company define flexibility for working parents (e.g. flex days, hybrid work options, asynchronous work)?
  • Are there roles on your team that can be done part-time? Are there opportunities for job shares or returnships?
  • How do managers at your company protect the time of part-time workers or those that have childcare responsibilities?
  • Are your policies surrounding flexibility communicated clearly and consistently to all of your employees? 

Many companies adapted to offering flexible options during the pandemic, but that isn’t to say these options will be suitable for the needs of working parents in the long run. As your company returns to the office, this is one area that will need to be addressed. 

Benefits

Long gone are the days when benefit packages that included comprehensive health insurance and vacation policies were enough. Designing a parent-inclusive workplace means offering benefits that support the lives of working parents and their families, such as employer-sponsored child care. 

Ask yourself these questions when determining whether your benefit package is parent-inclusive: 

  • Are child care benefits, paid family leave, mental health support, and coaching offered as part of an existing benefits program?
  • How do you define which employees are eligible for paid family leave? Does your current policy include fathers, adoptive parents or caregivers with adult dependents? 
  • How much are the working parents in your company currently paying for child care services? 
  • What are the pre-existing child care arrangements that your employees are accessing? Are there gaps in their needs? 
  • How do your managers and leaders respond when an employee’s child care arrangements fall through?
  • Are your employees being educated on what benefits they have available to them and how to use them? 

Culture

Lastly, leaders need to view their company’s workplace culture through the lens of a working parent. Do you nurture your employees that have caregiving responsibilities? Do you support them on their parenthood journey? 

While all employers would like to think that they do, this isn’t always the case. In fact, many working moms believe they are viewed differently in the workplace because they also have the role of “parent”. 

When creating a hybrid working environment, and in an effort to retain working mothers, leaders must build an environment that supports and celebrates caregivers during their careers. To understand how your company can do this better, ask the following questions: 

  • Do your open roles accommodate the needs of working parents and caregivers?
  • Do you provide new employees with comprehensive information about the benefits and flexibility policies that your company offers?
  • Are leaders in the company open and transparent about their own child care responsibilities?
  • Do your managers receive training to combat caregiving and working parent bias?
  • How do the company’s performance reviews account for caregiving responsibilities?
  • How do you support employees returning from maternity and parental leave?

Understanding where there are gaps in your company culture will not only allow you to design a workplace that is inclusive of working parents but it will have a direct impact on productivity and engagement levels. 

Building a Parent-Friendly Workplace: Get Working Parents Involved

Designing a workplace that supports the needs of working parents should not be carried out solely by C-suite level executives or department managers. Get involvement from your employees and ask them how they would like to see change enacted in the workplace. 

By creating a working parent employee survey, you can get to the heart of your employees’ pain points regarding their caregiving responsibilities and design a workplace that is inclusive of their needs. Whether that involves flexible schedules, a more robust parental leave policy, or mentoring programs for those returning from maternity leave. 

How Vivvi Can Support Working Parents

At Vivvi, we partner with employers of all sizes to make exceptional employer-sponsored child care more accessible and affordable. With flexible offerings and global coverage across campus, in-home, in-office, and virtual care, Vivvi meets the needs of your business and your employees where you are. Visit our employer page to learn more about the benefits and ROI our child care offerings have provided to businesses like yours.

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