Balancing family and work is an ongoing struggle that many working parents face daily – even more so since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. If these two key areas of life can’t balance, many working mothers will put caring for their family first.
In the last year, the challenges faced by working parents came to the forefront. According to recent studies carried out by Pew Research:
- 52% of employed parents with children under the age of 12 struggled to balance both child care and work responsibilities during the pandemic
- 50% of working mothers had to reduce their work hours to compensate for the increase in child care responsibilities
- Unemployment figures for mothers and fathers rose by 2.5% and by 2.8%, respectively due to multiple factors including parental burnout. This led to decreased employee retention and increased turnover costs.
While some of these challenges were unforeseen, others were exacerbated by the pandemic and could have been avoided by companies if they had implemented several strategies to make their organization parent-inclusive.
When companies foster a parent-friendly workplace and invest in employees with families, such as providing them with flexible parental leave policies, this can lead to boosted morale and productivity increases. In the state of California where parental leave is mandatory, 91% of companies noted a positive effect on both productivity and profitability.
What are the Pain Points of Working Parents?
To meaningfully transform your business, all HR and company leaders must fully buy into tackling this problem and work together to identify the challenges that working parents face. These pain points can be narrowed down to three categories: child care benefits, parental leave policies, and work-life balance.
- Inadequate child care benefits: For years, the benefits package offered by companies solely covered health and dental coverage. Before the pandemic, only 8% of organizations in 2019 offered access to a child care program (half of which was non-subsidized). Now, employees are looking for those companies that offer comprehensive and flexible family-friendly benefits such as on-site childcare options. Slim child care benefits are no longer adequate.
- Vague parental leave policies: Another concern for working parents is not having an adequate and robust parental leave policy that reflects the realities of parenthood. If a company’s parental leave policy is insufficient (e.g. doesn’t offer a return to work program after maternity or flexible family leave), this can place more stressors on the working parent and lead to a decline in employee productivity and engagement.
- Poor work-life balance: Over the last year, employees that have young children have struggled to balance their work and home life responsibilities. Recent research found that 57% of parents felt overwhelmed, especially if they didn’t have access to adequate child care during this time. This resulted in many parents, particularly working mothers, experiencing parental burnout or dropping out of the workforce entirely.
While the pain points of a working parent may change, the core lesson that companies need to remember is that a parent-inclusive work environment supports an employee’s family-related needs; both from a professional and personal perspective.
4 Strategies to Create a Parent-Inclusive Workplace
Working parents are valued members of your team. So, your organization needs to embrace a parent-inclusive company culture. Many companies are successfully supporting their working parents and with these four strategies, your company can join them.
Gain Support From All Levels
A workplace culture that embraces the needs and realities of being a parent must be supported from all levels of the organization. Companies that are looking to make their workplace parent-friendly should:
- Create a comprehensive parent-focused plan that addresses working parents pain points and notes those policies that can improve the workplace for these employees
- Hold open conversations with working parents to ensure a diverse range of family structures and parenting situations are captured within the inclusive strategy
- Seek support and buy-in with members across all levels of the organization e.g. stakeholders, C-Suite level executives, HR professionals, Finance team to department managers
Without support from all levels of the organization, parent-focused policies could fall flat. Gaining support from all levels of the organizational hierarchy will ensure that they are a core part of the workplace environment.
Review the Current Company Culture
An important part of building a parent-inclusive workplace is assessing which areas of your current company culture work and which don’t.
- Gather employee feedback by sending out company-wide employee surveys
- Seek out the perspectives of various organizational levels, e.g. managers and HR professionals
- Speak with your company’s Employee Resource Group (if applicable) and enquire about trends they have seen or issues that have been raised by working parents
Understanding the barriers that your working parents face along with the policies and benefits they find beneficial will help you to cultivate a company culture that is meaningful for everyone. These valuable insights will allow your organization to see what tangible changes are needed to better support parents in the workplace.
Improve Communication Channels
As part of an inclusive workplace, consistent communication across all channels is key. Organizations must strive to ensure that the messages being shared are also being acted upon. To improve communication channels:
- Ensure that relevant information concerning parental leave policies and compensation packages are communicated to employees regularly
- Encourage senior management to actively participate in conversations regarding family-friendly policies and are seen utilizing various benefit programs
Employees appreciate when their organization acknowledges and openly discusses the reality of juggling a full-time career and being a parent.
Provide Meaningful Childcare Benefits
Lastly, to transform your organization into a parent-inclusive workplace, your company must provide its employees with robust and meaningful employer-sponsored child care programs. Consider implementing the following:
- Provide parents with access to on-site child care programs
- Partner with a local child care provider
- Offer flexible and robust parental leave
- Support employees through their fertility efforts
- Set up return-to-work programs for new parents
The addition of child care benefits to your compensation package makes sound business sense. Not only can it reduce the stress that working parents regularly face while improving their productivity levels, but it will also be welcomed company-wide by all team members.
We Partner With Employers to Support Working Parents
Vivvi partners with employers of all sizes to provide high-quality, accessible, and affordable childcare options to their employees. With flexible offerings and global coverage, Vivvi meets the needs of your business and your employees where you are. Our early learning program can be availed of on-campus, in-office, in-home, and via virtual care.
Visit our employer page to learn more about the benefits and ROI our child care program can offer your business.