Mom distracted by kids

10 Tips for Supporting Working Parents

The pandemic and the subsequent Great Resignation have permanently altered the way businesses approach hiring and retaining workers. Parents make up 40% of the workforce, so keeping working parents happy can give you a serious competitive advantage. 

There are over 11 million job openings currently, which means people are being choosier than ever about their working situation. Implementing policies aimed at helping working parents thrive can help your company attract and retain top talent. 


10 Tips For Helping Working Parents Thrive

Whether you're looking to recruit new talent or just want to lower your churn rate, creating a supportive environment for working parents can give you a competitive edge. Here are 10 policies you can implement to create a company culture that values working parents.


Mom working with daughter


1. Offer Flexible Work Hours

Few things are more important to parents than being there for their children's important events — from doctors' visits to school plays. Constantly having to miss out on their child's activities will leave parents feeling like they're sacrificing their families for their careers. By offering working parents flexible work schedules, your employees can take off for an hour to make the class play and feel like they have a good work/life balance.

For this to be effective, however, it has to be a genuine option. If you have an official policy of unlimited PTO but no one actually takes time off, it won't work as an incentive. 


2. Extend Parental Leave

Allowing parents to take extra time off after the birth of their child and to ease back in with a hybrid schedule is one of the best ways you can support new parents. While competitive pay is important, offering benefits aimed at helping working parents put their families first will earn you more loyalty than a high salary alone. Policies to support working parents will build goodwill with your employees. 


3. Create a Hybrid Culture

Remote work is here to stay. The majority of employees aren't willing to go back to the office full-time. Many companies that are requiring remote workers to return to the office are facing pushback. Allowing working parents to work from home when they want or need to and come into the office for meetings or other select circumstances can help tremendously with recruitment and retention. 


4. Offer Benefits for the Entire Family

If your insurance option covers employees well for a reasonable price but costs a fortune to add their families, you'll be alienating working parents from the beginning. Make sure your insurance options cover families and dependents at a reasonable cost. Look for plans that offer comprehensive family benefits and cover mental health in addition to traditional healthcare. 


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5. Focus on Results

When it comes to evaluating job performance, keep your focus on results rather than face time at the office or logging traditional hours. Ultimately, the outcomes are what matter to your business’s bottom line, not how, when, or where the work is performed. Create a results-focused environment to motivate all of your employees to work more efficiently and effectively. They'll be willing to try more innovative approaches that could benefit your entire company. Encourage your team to look for creative solutions in all aspects of their work. 


6. Consider Childcare Solutions 

Parents have a lot of stress in their daily lives. When their child wakes up with the sniffles, they immediately start thinking about how they're going to juggle work, taking their child to the doctor, and finding childcare for a sick child. If you want to impress parents, consider the childcare struggles they face when you're planning meetings or setting office policy. 

Patagonia, for example, provides on-site childcare for children from birth until kindergarten. The childcare center is in a central location for easy access. Mothers have easy access to their babies for breastfeeding, and parents are encouraged to have lunch with their kids. When caregiving is visibly and openly supported, you create a culture focused on supporting working parents.


7. Encourage Asynchronous Work

In addition to offering flexible work hours, consider asynchronous options when it comes to project collaboration and communication. Asynchronous work refers to practices that don’t require all employees to be working together at the same time. Instead, individual team members can work when it's most convenient for them, often posting updates and communications for all other team members to see and build on. 

Asynchronous options allow all employees to maximize their productivity at a time that makes the most sense for them. Managing an asynchronous workflow may require a change in attitudes and tools, but it can be done. 

You'll likely need to break projects up into smaller sections and rely more heavily on documentation. Categorize communications with asynchronous workers. Attach headers or labels to messages to help parents at work gauge their priority. Meticulous documentation not only has the benefit of keeping everyone informed and up-to-date on progress, but it can also replace many meetings, improving your entire organization's productivity. 


8. Help Parents Manage Stress

Trying to balance work and family obligations is often difficult and stressful. Most parents save their PTO for sick days or scheduled vacations with their children. Since vacationing with children is anything but relaxing, they often have no time for self-care. Offering yoga classes on-site or providing in-office massage therapy can help parents cope with the heavy demands of parenting and working. 

Consider providing other options for employees to take care of their health as well, such as a gym membership or healthy office lunches. Walking meetings are a great way to get everyone up and moving, which is proven to reduce stress and improve health. 


Parent working while child plays


9. Provide Successful Role Models

If you're serious about helping parents at work, then you need to have visible role models in your organization. Publicize stories of diverse working parents in your company who are thriving with the support you offer. Include all types of families so that you don't appear to be prioritizing one particular family model. Make sure some of your role models are senior staff. 


10. Let Children Be Seen and Heard

People love children. Professor Robert Kelly went viral when his kids interrupted his interview with BBC. Every parent can relate. If you can't provide a childcare center, at least plan family days and encourage your employees to bring their children to work from time to time. When your employees see that you value their families, they'll be far more dedicated and loyal. 


The working landscape is shifting in new directions as it's being shaped by a multitude of forces, from digital transformation to the pandemic to the rapid rate of technological advancement. Customization is affecting almost every facet of society, including how we work. 

Ditching the one-size-fits-all philosophy and listening to your employees will guide you in helping working parents thrive. When you build a customizable workplace culture, it benefits everyone in your company — whether they have children or not. You can find more tips and advice for supporting all of your employees in our Resource Center.

By iHire | July 15, 2022