Being a parent is deeply rewarding, but it’s hardly without stress. Likewise, even the most satisfying and pleasurable of careers can bring their share of anxiety. Combine the two ventures and things can really seem hairy. Simply put, working parents undergo unique levels of stress, and over time that stress can impact their mental and physical health, their work-life balance, their productivity, and their job satisfaction.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways in which companies can assist working parents… and many of those ways begin in the HR department.
Supporting Working Parents
Consider just a few quick tips and strategies.
1) Develop a family-friendly environment.
Don’t make your employees feel like their kids are burdens or afterthoughts. Instead, create a company culture in which families are prioritized, and kids are regarded as part of your extended team. Some specific ways you can do that include:
- Have some workplace parties or events throughout the year that are designed to be inclusive of the whole family.
- Have a take-your-child-to-work day.
- Encourage managers and leaders to ask employees about their kids.
- Offer some flexibility to employees who want to use school vacations/holidays to spend time with their family.
- Make sure you hold company social events at different times; working parents may not be able to make happy hour, so maybe have the occasional team breakfast or lunch.
2) Support new moms.
New moms, in particular, need plenty of support from the HR team. Specifically, consider doing the following:
- Allow moms to bring their newborns to work as needed; or allow them to work remotely when possible.
- Make sure you have a private and comfortable lactation room, and that new moms have enough scheduling flexibility to nurse or pump.
3) Consider family-friendly benefits.
There are a lot of creative ways in which your benefits packages can support working moms and dads. Some examples include:
- Offer assistance with IVF or other fertility treatments.
- Provide education about 529 college savings accounts.
- Share college guidance resources with parents as their kids get a bit older.
- Consider anything you can do to subsidize childcare.
4) Provide scheduling flexibility.
Surveys show that, for most working parents, the most precious resource of all is time. Here’s a simple way your HR team can support moms and dads: Be flexible in your scheduling, allowing employees to come in early or late as needed in order to work around soccer games, piano recitals, school pickup, etc.
5) Provide paid maternity and paternity leave.
Along with flexibility, the other things moms and dads want is time to adjust to newborns. This is an area where your benefits packages can make a world of difference: Offering paid leave to moms and to dads can be a powerful way to support working parents.
6) Lead by example.
Finally, remember that policies are pretty meaningless if there isn’t also a healthy workplace culture. For example, offering flexible hours doesn’t mean much if your workplace also encourages people to burn the midnight oil. Make sure HR leaders and other executives set a healthy example: Work normal, balanced hours; don’t stay too late; and don’t send after-hours emails.
These are just a few of the steps your HR team can take to support the needs of working parents. If you have any questions about how you can create a truly family-friendly work culture, reach out to WhiteWater Consulting. We’d love to chat!