The pandemic underscored several ways in which American businesses fail to meet employee needs. One of the most striking shortcomings relates to childcare and parenting. According to an August 2021 report, almost 2.5 million women left the labor force during the pandemic. In January 2021, labor-force participation among women was the lowest since 1988 and mothers continue to remain out of the workforce at higher rates than other groups. Yet, 93% of fathers and 82% of mothers responding to a 2019 Pew Research Center study said working at least part-time is best for their families.
Clearly, employers need to do a better job supporting parents.
While a few large corporations have developed unique family-friendly benefits, there are several relatively easy measures companies can take to better support the parents on their payroll.
How Can You Make Your Work Culture More Family-Friendly
- Flexible schedules are in high demand among today’s workers – parents and non-parents alike. This might include hybrid work, adaptable hours, customized scheduling, outcome-based working, and part-time work options. Further, studies show that offering flexible scheduling options positively impacts retention rates.
- Categorizing communications is a simple way to make life easier for your workers, notes Rick Hammell, a member of the Forbes Human Resources Council.
“Send each email with a header: ‘For next week,’ ‘Need ASAP’ or ‘Not urgent,’ for example. This allows working parents to easily classify what is urgent and what can wait until Monday, which will tilt the scales of work-life balance without changing work productivity,” he said.
- Encourage parent connections at work through your company’s intranet – or even a bulletin board – where they can trade tips and leads on childcare or post notices about hand-me-down items. “The result:” says Harvard Business Review, “A more collaborative culture, and employees who spend less time worrying about and solving practical parenting problems.”
- Take the time to educate your staff about the family-friendly benefits you currently offer. They can’t use it if they don’t know about it, and they probably won’t use it if they don’t understand how it works.
- Look into boosting your benefits program. Dependent care flexible spending accounts, childcare reimbursements, subsidized childcare costs, flexible childcare credits, or stipends all can help families meet their childcare needs.
- Only about 19% of employers offer paid leave after a birth or adoption – and there’s no law in the U.S. requiring it. That makes a paid parental leave program an attractive benefit for employees with growing families.
- Develop a top-down, family-friendly mindset. HubSpot’s Christian Kinnear believes leaders need to be models for a culture that prioritizes family. “If we want to hire and retain amazing people…then we have to start walking the walk on company culture,” he told Fast Company.
- Be a company that values work-life balance, without stigmatizing or reducing the roles of parents on your staff. Encourage workers to take all the paid time off to which they are entitled, and keep channels of communication open between management and staff.
Before beginning any new program, it’s a good idea to find out what your employees really need, advises the Harvard Business Review. Gather information from annual performance reviews, culture-survey data, polls, or simple conversations to determine the roles parents hold within the organization, as well as the needs they perceive to be most important.
Given that family-friendly incentives help boost productivity and retention rates, making it easier to hold a job and be a parent is a win-win for both parties.
Is Your Company Ready to Have a Work Culture Change?
If you’re looking to build your staff, contact the recruitment experts at Pro Resources Staffing Services.