Since the pandemic began, one in four Canadian companies say they have lost employees due to childcare obligations. Even before the pandemic, flexibility was ranked as one of the highest priorities for working moms and dads who were searching for a job. What’s more, 94% believe that flexibility at work helps them be a better parent.
If your organization is wondering how to support working parents, we offer six helpful tips.
- Provide professional support
- Offer family-friendly benefits
- Find creative solutions
- Offer job sharing
- Encourage self-care
- Show empathy
1. Provide professional support
Managing a family and a career comes with layers of complexities and nuances. Getting a professional involved can provide unmatched support. A trained specialist can help parents achieve better work-life balance, prioritize their mental health and more. Bring in a coach who specializes in supporting working parents and encourage employees to schedule a consultation on work time. Provide a notebook and metal pen for parents to jot down their top takeaways during these sessions.
2. Offer family-friendly benefits
More than half of Canadian employers offer maternity leave top-up benefits, and 33% offer parental leave top-up benefits for fathers and same-sex couples.
There are many other benefits working parents need. For example, many Canadian families have a child with chronic illness, mental health/behavioural issue or other specialized health need. Family-friendly benefits that incentive working parents to stay with your organization include:
- Caregiver leave
- Elder services
- Legal assistance
- Mental health support
- Financial services
- Paid bereavement leave
- Sabbatical leave
To find out what benefits your employees want, ask them. Incentivize participation by offering a small giveaway, such as sanitizer spray or a fun pen, to those who offer input. Or enter everyone who participates in your poll into a draw. Employee gift ideas could include anything from a coaster set to a Picnic Basket Cooler.
3. Find creative solutions
While flexible hours and hybrid work is becoming more common, working parents sometimes require out-of-the-box solutions for unique situations. Perhaps everyone on your team works Monday to Friday, but one parent would prefer to work four 10-hour days to reduce the need for childcare. Or perhaps an employee needs to leave by 3:00 to pick up kids and would like to finish up their day from 8:00 to 10:00 in the evening after the kids go to bed. Consider allowing this type of flexibility or even part-time hours to work within your employees’ schedules. (Find more creative solutions in our hybrid work article.)
Go out of your way to accommodate working parents’ needs—and they’ll go above and beyond for your organization.
4. Offer job sharing
Job sharing occurs when two part-time employees share the same role, jointly doing a full-time job. It can be a win-win situation, as the necessary full-time work is still being completed while working parents get the flexibility they need. Job sharing can also help retain two employees (rather than losing both completely). Plus, many times, job sharing results in even greater contributions than if one person was holding down a full-time role.
5. Encourage self-care
Between work, kids and other home responsibilities, it’s vital that working parents practice self-care. Whether they wish they had time for a brisk walk before work or want time to read a good book, talk to working parents to see how you can help. Encourage them to make full use of their lunch break to focus on themselves. Offer one day each quarter for self-care. They can use this day to get their hair done, have a massage or schedule medical appointments. Designate certain days as “meeting-free,” so employees have fewer distractions and a smoother workday. Send self-care gifts too. Round lip balm and a robe are thoughtful employee gift ideas that remind them to take care.
6. Show empathy
To retain working parents, they need to feel like their leaders truly care about them and their situations. As parents navigate daily challenges, from a sick child to a pressing deadline, it’s crucial to show you see them and are understanding. Simply listening to a parent explain their situation and responding in an empathetic way can make a world of difference, even when there’s little you can do to help.
From surviving to thriving
With these ideas on how to support working parents, like providing family-friendly benefits, offering job sharing and showing sincere empathy, your organization will soon become an employer of choice for working parents.
- Call in professional support
- Provide family-friendly benefits
- Find creative solutions
- Show genuine empathy