This is a very important topic to me and let me explain to you why…
I coach baseball at a local high school here in Orange County (Go Mustangs) and I also coach baseball in a local travel organization (Go Colts). As we prepare for games and the stands are filling up, I consistently see the same parents in the stands, but more importantly I consistently do not see the same parents in the stands. I will ask the kids if their parents will come and I usually get the same exact answer, ” My parents can’t get off of work.” So that leads me to this blog post.
Mandatory care benefits and policies for new parents include paid maternity and paternity leave. Beyond the support provided to your team members beyond the initial stages of parenting, does your organization continue to support your people once they make the transition back into the workforce as working parents? No matter your company’s current plan for working parents, it’s a necessity to cultivate a workplace culture that recognizes and supports the needs of your employees and their dual roles in work and in life. When push comes to shove, who is more important to them?
Creating a culture of support around parental leave
Companies need to create, provide and SUPPORT a culture for working parents throughout the journey from parental leave to working parenthood. To do so will require helping team members change their mindsets towards the parents with their teams.
Recent study statistics suggest that there is still hesitation from parents when it comes to taking advantage of paid leave. While about 76% of working parents reported having company policies that support parental leave, 56% admitted to experiencing a disparity between their company’s stated support of taking time off and the responses they encountered when requesting time off.
57% of working parents stated they would have treated their leave differently had they had support from management, and a very alarming 63% of new fathers believe that taking extended leave would be detrimental to their careers.
When it comes to parental leave, organizations need to take active steps to communicate to their employees that they have permission to use the leave time they’ve been given without the risk of feeling guilt and being perceived as lacking commitment to the organization.
With half of all employed parents stating that they struggle to keep an interesting or challenging role at work while being a parent, it’s clear that the failure to support working parents in this regard can lead to serious impacts to a company in terms of workplace performance, talent turnover, and business costs. Organizations that value working parents as an integral part of their overall company strategy must invest their support efforts accordingly.
Securing the future of your workforce
Working parenthood is a universal concern for securing the future longevity of your workforce, driving decisions of whether people choose to join or stay in your organization.
It is important for an organizations Human Resources department to have foresight about parenting by anticipating changes in the workforce and address how those changes will be handled. In the eyes of prospective and your current employees, how a company treat working parents is an indicator of how they treat their employees in general. For example, including information regarding family-related policies during the onboarding process sends a positive signal of the company’s long-term investment in retaining and supporting their people and allows employees to envision building a career within your organization.
The ‘working parent problem’ of work-life balance
Studies reveal that for working parents, flexibility with work-life balance outweighs every other career criteria and YES that includes SALARY. For these employees, they strive to be present and productive both at work and at home.
HBR (Harvard Business Review) refers to this navigation of parental work-life balance as “the working parent problem,” or “the challenge of effectively employing and fully unleashing the potential of the folks who are trying to navigate the demands of work and family.”
In HBR Daisy Wademan Dowling, Founder & CEO of Workparent, offers the following supportive solutions to the working parent problem:
- Demonstrate personal support for working-parent employees in a visible way
- Define your organization’s working-parent challenge from the front-line employee perspective
- Engage allies within and outside of the HR department to identify and execute on solutions.
- Take a comprehensive approach rather than relying on “silver bullet” solution
- Support and shape grassroots, employee-led solutions, such as peer-to-peer working-parent mentoring and coaching programs or Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
In short, raising the visibility of working parenthood and your organization’s support for it, from the executive level to the managerial level, through open communication and open collaboration are key methods for implementing a positive workplace culture for working parents.
Forward-thinking organizations don’t just support working parents because they are obliged to — they do so because they know and understand that working parents are a business asset worth investing in. Creating an environment where a parent can leave work an hour or two early to catch their kids baseball game would mean the world to both the parent and the child.
As I continue coaching our youth and developing them as both athletes and as young men, I hope I can see their faces light up when they see their parents in the stands. On the flip side of that, I hope as I continue to develop business leaders into great forward thinkers, I hope to see them foster a culture of working parent support.