Recently, on September 16th, National Working Parents Day was celebrated, honoring the working parents who work outside the home to provide for their families.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 61 percent of families with children have both parents working outside the home. And, as an employer, no doubt you know working parents face a range of challenges. While juggling daycare and schedules top the list, they also struggle to find time with each other and their children. It’s often a balancing act that requires excellent communication skills, patience, and lots of love. When those skills fail, as they can, the results often show up on the job. After all, while you may have hired a parent for their skills and experience, it’s a whole person and their concerns that comes to work every day.
In fact, working parents easily feel divided between home and work. As an example, parents may work opposite schedules, so there’s always a parent home with kids yet diminished time for them as a couple. Each takes turns staying home if a child becomes sick. School activities and other events are carefully orchestrated. Precious family meals, bedtime stories, family movie nights, and vacations become highlights. These are the moments where working parents receive their rewards.
Certainly, there are upsides to hiring parents as employees. They’re used to cleaning up a mess they didn’t make with few complaints. They’ve perfected the poker face during standoffs, bluffs and negotiations, and they’re expert at pretending interest in another’s task, conversation or event with smiles and nods. All strong business skills!
Yet the challenges (guilt about not ‘being there’ for the kids, adequate time for self-care, finding quality childcare, keeping up with all the schedules) can show up on the job at any time, without regard for sensitive work projects or schedules. Can an employer make accommodations for team members who are also parents? Yes, and, not only will it ease absenteeism and improve productivity, it will also burnish your reputation as an employer of choice. Here are some ways to make that happen:
- Offer paid parental leave: Employees are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act however paid leave is a strong benefit that distinguishes an employer as a leader in its industry when seeking top talent.
- Be flexible with parent employees: While any employee welcomes this benefit, it can be especially meaningful for parents to work from home, telecommute, adjust shift increments; this has become much more acceptable as we work through the impact of Covid on working systems.
- Provide on-site childcare: Not only does this ease the mind of a parent – especially new ones – and help them focus on their job, it’s an enormous cost savings as well. However, the risk of having small children in your work place calls for thorough examination of liabilities, space requirements, access to medical care, etc.
- Offer expanded wellness benefits for the family, not just your employee: gym memberships, preventive vaccinations, access to company health facilities are all nice options to extend to an employee’s family.
For more information regarding employee benefits, laws and best practices, please reach out to us at any time. It’s our goal to ensure the best possible fit for you, your business and your team.