Being a working parent was never an easy task. Spending more than half of the day at the office means getting limited time to spend with your kids. Missing your kid’s performance at the school function, not being able to play with them, not being able to give them enough time for their studies is the price you pay for being a working parent.
Earlier most families had only one working member but now the number of women in the workforce has increased tremendously and taking care of the kid has become a discussion among parents. But this wasn’t much of a problem as parents relied on daycare facilities, grandparents, nannies or after school programs to keep their kids engaged until the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. This was mentally as well as physically a trying time for many as people lost their jobs, many had to face the illness, kids had to face disrupted education and a lot of challenges. For some, the work from home setup during COVID-19 was a big challenge as they had to juggle between their full-time work and supervising or helping their kids with remote learning environment whereas for some this was a good chance as they had quality time to spend with their kids.
However, the pandemic is not the only crisis that put forth a tough path for working parents. Before the pandemic hit the world, most parents had to coordinate to drop their kids at school, pick them up from school and attain to their other needs all along by reaching the office on time. Therefore the need for a parent-friendly organization is gaining worldwide popularity. By providing resources for working parents, organizations can achieve greater productivity and retain their talents. Hence we have curated some points on how organizations can help and support working parents.
Here are 5 thoughtful ways how organizations can help working parents:
No work after office hours
A person on average spends 8-12 hours in their office. Working more than this makes a person less productive as they need time to relax. Working for long hours increases stress and anxiety. This makes the work-life balance go for a toss. Therefore companies should not encourage their employees to work after office hours. Sending emails or calling an employee after office hours for work should be strictly prohibited. Working parents rush home to be with their kids and want to spend some quality time with their families. Bombarding them with work-related emails or calls is an unfair practice and employees often have to compromise on the time spend with their families. Hence companies should follow strict policies and help working parents have a good work-life balance.
Offer Flexi or Hybrid work option
The needs of working parents vary. For some parents dropping their kids at school and picking them up is a tough task with a full-time job. Whereas for some, not being able to spend quality time with their kids is also a major concern. Parents often find it difficult to give enough time to their kids amidst their busy work schedules. Having a flexible work setup includes a hybrid work option, focusing on outcome-based work rather than counting the working hours, providing maternity/paternity leaves etc. Hybrid work means the employee has the flexibility to split their time working from the office as well as remotely. The hybrid option gives parents the time to take care of their kid’s needs and have a work-life balance, thus improving the productivity of the work they do. A hybrid option also saves the commuting time for parents and therefore they get more time with their families.
Ensure Parent-friendly/Family-friendly policies
Employers should work closely with HR to review and customise company policies and ensure parent-friendly policies like paid maternity leaves, parental leaves, Flexi work options, vacation time, paid child care facility etc. Family-friendly benefits offered by companies ensure that employees are satisfied with their work environment and this, in turn, helps in employee retention. Companies can provide a list of daycare facilities for kids so that their employees do not have to spend a lot of time searching for suitable daycare for their kids. Companies should also make sure that women are not discriminated against related to wages or career opportunities based on pregnancy or motherhood. Companies should provide medical benefits like health insurance, insurance for a disabled family member, leave to take care of an ill family member etc. Family-friendly benefits offered by companies reduce stress not only for the employees but also their family members as they have more control over their personal lives.
Provide resources for working parents
Organizations should provide resources tailored according to their employee’s needs. Organizations should provide working parents with resources through the Employee Assistance Program for needs like counselling, parenting tips, work-life balance, etc. Some of these resources include – providing mental health support resources for employees and their families, providing the latest tools, educational resources, childcare needs etc.
Build an environment of open communication
Every employee in an organization might be facing different problems. Some struggle to balance their work and parental duties, some need time to take care of their old and ailing parents while some are too stressed with their work. Hence organizations should take regular feedbacks from their employees so that they have an idea of what works best for their employees and can curate work culture depending on this feedback. The HR department should also be friendly and empathetic towards employees who are facing work-related or personal issues. All organizations and their HR managers should create strategies on how they can support their employees during the crisis and take proactive steps. Listening to your employee’s problems or even a simple question by the manager like – “How are things going?” can have a great impact on employees. Companies should also conduct workshops and support programs for working parents.
What happens when companies do not support working parents?
When companies choose to ignore working parent’s problems it affects the company, as over-stressed and tired employees are less productive which in turn affects the productivity of the company. Some of the adverse effects of not supporting working parents are:
- Higher rate of maternal depression
- Marital differences
- No work-life balance
- Affects the mental well-being of children
Why should companies support working parents?
Companies that support their working parents have the following advantage:
- Increased productivity
- Happy and stress-free work environment
- Greater retention rate
- Attract the best talent
- Good reputation
The COVID-19 pandemic was a tough time for all especially the working parents. Juggling between work and children’s online learning classes, worried about disturbance from children during meetings, not being able to complete the task on time, anxiety about the virus affecting the family etc. are some challenges that parents have to go through. During such challenging times, employers and managers need to understand that their working parents are having a tough time managing home and work. Therefore supporting them during such time and providing them with family-friendly benefits is the need of the hour.
Companies who support their working parents during and after the pandemic understand the importance of work-life balance and can increase productivity and employee engagement as compared to companies that do not overlook the stress faced by their employees.
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