Employee Engagement

10 Simple Strategies To Help Employers Support Working Parents

By
Jasmine Panayides

When you start or expand on your family, it is supposed to be one of the best times of your life. You're filled with love, joy, and optimism. For working parents, however, there is a lot of stress and anxiety that comes with the territory. From finding a balance between work and home life to dealing with the guilt of leaving their children during the day, parenting is a huge challenge.

A study on working parents published in the International Journal of Human Resources Studies found that the top five challenges of working parents are:

  • Work-life conflict, 
  • Stereotyping,
  • Exhaustion,
  • Changing work schedule,
  • Career growth opportunities.

As a result of these constant battles, we see that they are simply letting go of the idea of having a career and leaving the labor market altogether. This rings particularly true with mothers, where the statistics are alarming. Millions of women are leaving their jobs to support their families and raise their children, with non-white women leaving their jobs to care for family 10% more than white women.

One might say, ‘‘But, this is their own choice''. Yes and no. While some women's decisions to leave the workforce may be voluntary, research shows that a majority are leaving because they are not receiving adequate support from their employers.

That's why companies need to support working parents and create an environment where they can continue to be part of the working community while raising their families.

So in this article, we bring you ten simple strategies to help you and your business support working parents the way that they support you and your business.

Table of Contents

Why Should Companies Support Working Parents?

First and foremost, without jumping onto the DEI bandwagon, companies should support working parents because it is the right thing to do! Because every employee deserves support regardless of whether they have a family or not.

Besides the moral ground, there are also real-world benefits of being supportive of parents in the workplace. Research from the largest-ever study of working parents, with more than 440,000 parents at 1,244 US companies, found that organizations that support working parents benefit from the following:

  • 5.5 times revenue due to enhanced innovation.
  • 89% of employees would stay with the company for a long time.
  • 92% would endorse the company to their family and friends as a great workplace.
  • 92% are willing to go the extra mile to get the word done.

In short, organizations that look after their parent employees gain a competitive advantage in employer branding, retention, and productivity.

What Do Parents Bring To The Workforce?

Parents bring a unique perspective to the workplace that few can understand, such as balancing multiple responsibilities and staying focused in chaotic environments.

Parents are also known for their resourcefulness and resilience as they develop creative solutions to everyday problems. And let’s not forget the leadership skills parents have honed over the years. 

Whether it's driving kids to soccer practice or giving them support through school assignments, parents have learned how to lead with empathy and have had plenty of experience managing multiple roles.

They are significant assets to any organization, and letting them fade into the backdrop will only hinder your business.

A mom and her two kids baking in the kitchen

10 Strategies That Can Help You Help Your Parent Employees

It might be tempting to think that supporting your working parents requires a lot of time and money. But it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Here are ten simple strategies for employers to support working parents:

1. Revisit Your Parental Leave Policies

Many companies have outdated parental leave policies that don't support the modern family. So, in 2023, why not reevaluate how your policies can better support today's workforce? Why not consider offering:

Paid Parental Leave

Give your employees the ease of mind to be able to take time off to care for their dependents without worrying about their financial security.

In the UK, statutory paid maternity pay is a contractual right for employees with over 26 weeks of continuous service with a company. However, most states in the US don't benefit from such laws. But you can offer these benefits even if your state doesn't have mandatory parental leave regulations.

Extended Paternity/Partner Leave

Almost always, fathers are left out of when it comes to parental leave. Consider giving them the support to bond with their children and extend their leave allowance. And if you can’t give them the same paid time off as mothers, at least provide them with more than a couple of weeks.

2. Strengthen Your Offboarding And Onboarding For Parental Leave

When an employee leaves to go on parental leave, such as maternity/paternity/adoption leave, it can be quite a daunting experience. Their minds are racing with multiple concerns, such as: Will I still have a job when I get back? What will I do when I come back? What support can I expect?

A transparent offboarding and onboarding process can ease these worries and provide some clarity into their role within the organization. Here is how you can ease their minds:

Offboarding Support

  • Have a checklist to support them with the transition. This could include support such as transferring knowledge to a colleague, updating their contact details, and accessing additional support networks.
  • Let them know how much they will be paid and offer them the option for paid keeping-in-touch days during their leave, where they can come into the office and stay in the know.

Onboarding Support

  • Offer a transition-back-to-work period to support them with their return to work. This could be in the form of flexible working hours, support groups, or a mentor. You could even follow Panorama's steps and offer employees a four-week transition period with limited meetings.
  • Create a log of changes that happened during their leave so that they can get quickly up to date without having to go through hundreds of emails.
A mom sitting on a computer with her baby in one hand

3. Create Flexible Work Beyond Hybrid Models

Hybrid working is great and offers more flexibility for parents than solely working from the office. But it shouldn't be the "default setting" for parent employees.

Flexible work can support various needs, such as part-time hours, flexi-hours, and remote work. Why not have conversations with your parent employees and ask them what best suits them?

They may need flexible working hours to take and pick up their kids from school. Or it could be that they need to work remotely most of the time to allow them to juggle their workload and childcare commitments better.

The key here is to offer some form of flexibility in how they work.

And if you are thinking, ''Well, how do I know that they will be actually working?''. Well, these symptoms of the infamous productivity paradox that has been battling the remote work debate for the past year can be solved by focusing on one thing: results.

Instead of focusing on how many hours and when and where your employees work, why not focus on the results they produce? You will give them more autonomy and trust to work in a way that works for them, and it will also free up your time so you can focus on other important things. Their performance will tell you if they are thriving in a flexible working environment or not.

4. Create Parent Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Parental support resource groups are a great way to support parents in the workplace. They provide support, advice, and advocacy for working parents. These groups are most helpful to employees because they build connections and foster dialogue between colleagues of different backgrounds and experience levels.

Members can share tips on how to better support their children while they work, and they are a great way to show your employees that they are not alone in this journey of working parenthood.

ERGs can even be used to support the employer by gathering insights on improving support initiatives for parents within the organization and shaping policies that best support this demographic of workers.

Support groups have been found to:

  • Enhance recruiting and retention efforts.
  • Support diversity initiatives.
  • Increase understanding of the needs of different groups.
  • Foster a sense of inclusion and belonging.

So why not consider setting up such support groups for your parent employees?

A group of employees talking in front of post-it notes stuck to a glass window

5. Create Wellness And Wellbeing Programs

Research from the Ohio State University found that 66% of the working parents surveyed reported symptoms of burnout. This comes as no surprise, as the dual responsibilities of work and parenting can often make it hard for parents to find the time to manage their wellbeing.

This is why having support from the organization is critical in helping employees balance out their lives. Particularly for working parents, having support with mental health and stress management could help them better cope with their roles at home and work.

These could be offered as employee benefit programs, such as stress management seminars or free on-site clinics that offer a range of wellness solutions for employees.

Either way, supporting their wellbeing will make a huge difference to parents struggling to balance work and home life.

6. Provide Consistent Recognition And Praise

Recognition and praise should be part of any support plans you have in place. Without stating the obvious, research has found that recognition and reward systems support employees' performance, motivation, and commitment.

But in a world where working parents are often overlooked and taken for granted, it can be easy to forget the importance of acknowledging their efforts.

So make sure that employees with children get the recognition and praise they deserve. For example, you could set aside specific time to organize team awards, company-wide competitions, or even a recognition platform that celebrates employees’ successes.

It could be something as simple as taking five minutes at the end of each team meeting to share your appreciation for someone's hard work. Or your company could provide rewards such as gift vouchers, extra vacation days, or time off in lieu after working late hours/weekends.

A great way to show that you appreciate and value team members is by celebrating milestones in their career or personal life, such as finishing a degree or having another baby (it's not just about work!)

Either way, offering support and recognition to your working parents will prime how they feel about the company and drive performance. It will also create a positive workplace culture where everyone is appreciated.

Using Nectar To Recognize Working Parents

If you're ready to systemize recognition, Nectar can be a great tool to help you recognize your staff. For example:

  • Use Nectar's employee recognition software to send shoutouts to working parents when they exhibit your organization's core values.
  • Add fun, family-friendly challenges like having a family dinner, getting annual checkups, taking a pulse survey, or getting involved in an employee resource group.
  • Use points to redeem rewards that are fun for the whole family. Nectar's catalog includes excellent gift cards to stores like Target, Buy Buy Baby, GAP, DoorDash, and more. Nectar also has an Amazon integration available in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, which gives working parents access to tons of great products that can be shipped straight to their door.
  • See the gaps in your recognition process with manager and company-wide analytics. As you build out a solid recognition experience, you may worry that working parents are getting the short end of the stick. Managers and program administrators can easily tap into analytics. These reports can be a valuable reminder to keep recognition flowing to all team members. Managers can hold themselves accountable with team insights, and administrators know who to reach out to when praise falls short.
Create a culture people won't want to leave with Nectar

7. Offer Family-Friendly Benefits

While gym memberships, discounts on cinema tickets, and free snacks are great benefits, these don't appeal to the average working parent. So why not look into offering family-friendly benefits too?

For example, support with childcare costs can be greatly appreciated by parents. This can come from providing on-site or subsidized daycare support or helping them find the proper support from external providers.

You could also consider offering:

  • Support with moving costs if they are relocating for work reasons.
  • Discounts on groceries.
  • Subsidized education expenses for their children.
  • Healthcare for them and their family.

Or you could even follow the lead of Nate, and offer flexible grants for fertility treatments, egg freezing, adoption fees, or surrogacy fees.

These are just some of the many family-friendly benefits you could consider to support your working parents. But the best way to find out what benefits they want is to ask them. So send out that pulse survey, get talking, and start providing support to your working parents!

8. Understand Your Employee's Challenges

As mentioned above, the best way to support your working parents is to understand their challenges.

How do you know if the initiatives and support you are providing are helping them if you don't ask?

That's where the power of employee sentiment comes in.

With pulse surveys or anonymous forums, your working parents can share their honest feedback on the challenges they face at work and provide valuable insight into how you can better support them.

You could even consider appointing a head of diversity and inclusion to lead this initiative, giving them the responsibility of gathering insights from employees about their challenges and needs. This way, you can gain a better understanding into the demographics that you need to help most. For instance, you may find that male parents struggle to manage their work-life balance or that females with younger children find it harder to attend work functions.

By understanding your employees' challenges, you can genuinely support those who need it most and ensure your help meets their needs.

Mom working at a table on a computer beside two toddlers eating

9. Start Working On Individual Career Development Plans

Working parents can still be ambitious and want to work towards their career goals.

 But these types of biases, especially towards mothers, still exist in the corporate world.

As a result, a UK study has found that female employees with children will lose almost £70,000 ($87000) in wages over the next nine years, compared to what they could have earned if they were childless.

Although working mothers could have the same capabilities, skills, and attitudes as those without children, their career opportunities and development plans are often overlooked because they have children.

How we look at performance management and career development plans needs to change.

Instead of focusing on the number of hours somebody works or the times they work from the office/from home, why not start to look at outcomes and results to measure performance?

When it comes to career development plans, support them with personalized career guidance. For example, offer them one-on-one coaching or mentoring if they want to progress up the ladder but are unsure of the steps they need to take or need more confidence.

And remember, these plans should consider the support and flexibility working parents need to grow their careers. So don't bombard them with unrealistic expectations.

The bottom line is: Support your working parents and ensure their career growth is part of the agenda.

10. Build A Family-Friendly Culture

Finally, one of the most essential strategies you need to adopt as a business to support working parents is a family-friendly culture.

Without getting too much into the nitty gritty of what that means, support should be omnipresent. It should be in the very essence of what you do and how you support your working parents.

You need to break down those organizational silos and create a business that welcomes working parents' lives and celebrates the diversity of family life in the workplace.

It’s about creating an environment of psychological safety where your employees feel like they can ask for the afternoon off to care for their sick child or confide in their manager about the struggles of juggling work and raising children.

Ultimately, it boils down to being empathetic and understanding the needs of your workforce with children.

Two women standing in front of a paper easel talking

Conclusion

As you can see, supporting working parents is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it's about understanding your employees' needs, goals, and challenges. Once you know those things, you can confidently create strategies to help them achieve their desired outcomes.

From offering flexible work arrangements and career development plans to consistent recognition and praise, there are numerous ways that employers can support working parents to create a better family-friendly culture.

Nectar is here to support you in your journey to providing the support and flexibility needed for your working parents. We offer tools that provide recognition, rewards, and support - no matter who you are or where you work.

Request a demo today to learn more about how we can help you support working parents through consistent recognition.

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