7 ways HR and People teams can support working families

Carol Foote
Published on 11th February 2019
3 min read

Have I packed their lunches today? Has all the homework been finished? What time’s baseball practice this evening?

Parents have so much to think about daily that it can often feel like they have two full-time jobs. In fact, 58% of Americans with children under the age of 18 report feeling stressed, according to Gallup.

Yet workplaces with parental leave policies are 60% more likely to report above-average financial performance than companies without them. For workplaces with paternity leave policies, this becomes 93%.

Making sure your organization’s doing enough to support working parents is a no brainer – not only is it the right thing to do, but it contributes hugely to company performance.

After all, parents make up a significant part of the working population. Not catering for  or supporting them can alienate a large portion of potential workers – to your company’s detriment in the war for talent.

Here are our top tips for supporting your working parents.

  1. Create a genuinely family friendly atmosphere

This means encouraging managers to ask all employees about their children, having a ‘bring your kid to work day’, inviting families to work events and being more patient and flexible, particularly over the school vacations when parents may be scrambling round for childcare.

It means being more empathetic. Encourage managers to be mindful of parents’ schedules. If they know it’s not easy for them to get childcare, encourage managers to not organize social events in the evening – do breakfast or a lunch time too.

Remember though, it’s not just parents who deserve such support. This also extends to all employees who need it. You don’t want resentment between parents and non-parents in your organization.

  1. Provide practical support from conception to college

For parents trying for IVF or adoption, allow time off to attend appointments and provide access to counseling. DuPont even helps employees save on adoption expenses.

For new moms, consider allowing them to bring their newborns to work, have a private room where they can express milk or, like Johnson & Johnson, offer a temperature-controlled delivery service that lets mothers ship breast milk back home while travelling for business.

For parents of young children, consider childcare. If you have the space and resources, you could have an onsite creche, subsidize day care or organize back up childcare for school vacations and business trips.

For parents of older kids, consider providing exam support or, like Salesforce, offer a college guidance program providing families with assistance on admissions and college financing.

  1. Offer flexible working hours

81% of employees we polled in our survey, ‘Why your workforce isn’t working’, placed importance and value on flexible working. Office culture’s changing from one of presenteeism, to achieving results.

Enabling parents to work around recitals and parent teacher meetings, will help them worry less about fitting everything in and focus on their work.

  1. Offer paid maternity and paternity leave

The US is the only developed nation that isn’t required to provide paid maternity leave. For some forward-looking US companies though, they understand the positive impact of supporting their working parents has on their bottom line. When Google increased their paid maternity leave period, they found that the rate at which new mothers quit decreased by an impressive 50%.

Remember that leave should be for both moms and dads. Unfortunately, although paternity leave is available in many countries, many dads still feel too stigmatized to take it. Apart from allowing dads to have a hands-on role in their children’s early development, studies have also shown that increasing paternity leave makes it more likely that moms are able to return to work full-time, too.

  1. Use data to understand your workforce

Understand how many working parents you have and what they do; and look out for any attrition patterns. This way you can tease out and address any existing problems. For example, you might find that moms aren’t leaving work as soon as they’ve had kids, but a few years later.

You could pre-empt this by asking managers to discuss work-life issues with employees before that point and work out a way for the company to support them.

  1. Ensure all policies are completely inclusive

Make sure your policies are inclusive of all kinds of parents and parents-to-be: moms, dads, adoptive, surrogate and grandparents who are the primary carers for their grandkids, as well as those going through IVF.

Don’t forget that it’s not just parents who may require support. Some workers may be caring for elderly parents, or other family members. Work and home-life balance is just as important for these employees.

Ensure all your policies and parenting programs are visible and easily accessible; and that employees are not stigmatized for accessing them.

  1. Set an example through your leadership team

Make sure your support goes beyond policies, is ingrained in the company culture and showcased by the leadership. For example, a policy of flexible working is not enough when you have a culture of long hours in your office.

The Modern Families Index found that the long-hours culture was damaging family life, with many working mothers and fathers feeling obliged to work longer hours to meet expectations, even if they worked flexibly.

Happy parents means happy workers

So, why is it important to support working parents? Apart from being the right thing to do, it is also vital for productivity. Plus, it’s another weapon that employers can wield in the war for talent. We all know that benefits these days can be more incentivizing than money when it comes to recruitment and retainment.

Is it time to revisit what support you’re providing for working families?

What do your workers really want? We spoke to 3,500 employees to discover what drives them – with surprising results. Download the research today.

How to effectively navigate HR issues this Christmas | Infographic

 

Browse more topics from this article

Employee Engagement Workforce Experience

You're losing the war for talent