Covid-19 makes the need to support parent to remain in work even more challenging. How are parents supposed to work with children at home? With School’s closed and even as some start to have certain year groups back we are far away from normal school attendance and wrap around care. The challenges to balance the work and home life has never been so key.
Take a moment to look around your workplace; do you know how many of your staff members are parents? Did they join you as parents or have they become parents whilst working for you?
According to the Office for National Statistics, 75% of mothers and 93% of fathers with dependent children were in work in the UK during 2019 so chances are this is reflected to some degree within your workplace.
Now let’s be honest; you employ people to do a job and it can be frustrating when the challenges of parenthood impact upon work whether it’s taking time off to attend school events or needing to leave work to manage childcare. Such challenges are inevitable so having the mechanisms in place to support your staff during these times is important, for a multitude of reasons.
Supporting your staff through the various life milestones can have a positive impact upon employee engagement which can, in turn, benefit your business. Research has shown that employee engagement contributes to higher performance and can help you retain your talent. Getting the support right during the pandemic will impact of the future engagement.
Now, what can you do? What these measures look like in practice will depend on the nature of your business, and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, is unlikely to fulfil your needs.
It may be the case that you need to assess your ‘family friendly’ policies and practices to determine whether there is more you could be doing as a business to support working parents. Ask yourself whether you’re making flexible working a genuine opportunity for your staff and consider how you might be able to incorporate this into your recruitment activities. Or you may benefit from creating a more robust support programme for employees who are undergoing treatment for IVF or returning to work after maternity or paternity leave.
The 2019 Modern Families Index, published by charity Working Families and childcare provider Bright Horizons, recommends “a supportive workplace culture and, in particular, supportive line managers, are crucial to ensuring that parents have some genuine control over their work lives. Employers should understand their workplace culture and what needs to change and invest in support for line managers to ensure both fathers and mothers have access to genuine “flexibility at work.”
Employees may wish to continue with their current working from home arrangements, whereas others may simply not be able to work with young children at home currently. The situation will continue to change and employers will need to change with it and maybe offering greater flexibility could be a positive road for your business.
Remember that your employer brand is a powerful thing, and it can be seriously damaged if you fail to address such matters.
The bottom line is that you simply can’t afford to bury your head in the sand, and if you have parents in your workforce, it’s statistically likely that they’re finding it a challenge to juggle work and family life. So, speak to your staff and find out what you can do. A perfect solution may not exist, but you have a duty to take your responsibilities seriously and audit the effectiveness of your current approach.
If you need help with reviewing your options we can help you pinpoint any potential opportunities, as well as provide practical advice on the steps you can take to better support working parents. Get in touch today to arrange an initial no-obligation consultation.
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