A large percentage of the workforce are parents or caregivers, however a recent study from LinkedIn found that just over a third of UK professionals do not believe that their employers do enough to support new parents. Support for employees with family care duties is crucial, in fact studies have shown that through supporting parents and caregivers, businesses can reduce workplace stress, enhance productivity, and increase employee retention.
One of the biggest challenges faced by parents is immense childcare costs. While many UK businesses do offer additional financial assistance in conjunction with their legal obligations, this is not always a financially viable solution for SME’s. However, not offering additional financial incentives doesn’t mean that you are unable to provide support to employees who are caregivers. Below we have listed 5 ways businesses can support working parents without impacting the budget.
Provide Family Friendly Flexibility
An affecting challenge for parents is the need for flexibility, 56.2% of mothers and 22.4% of fathers reported that they had made changes to their employment for childcare reasons. Meaning, mothers in particular are more likely to change jobs if they feel their current employer does not provide the flexibility they require. Simple changes can make a huge difference to whether a caregiver will remain at a company or not. For example, businesses could amend an employee working hours to accommodate school drop offs / pick-ups or introduce flexible working hours to allow for appointments or other caregiver commitments.
Introduce Remote Working
Homeworking does not equal a decrease in productivity – in fact, it is widely reported that employees who are working from home, often work more hours than those in an office. Allowing parents and caregivers the opportunity to work remotely can help employees work more efficiently and reduce emotional stress. It can also result in less sickness absence and unpaid leave taken. For example, if childcare arrangements have fallen through, the opportunity to work from home can eliminate the need to take time off work.
Integrating work and family life can be hard and they can often blend together. The idea of separating the day into work time and then family time just is not feasible in today’s world. By introducing flexible and remote working, businesses can create a culture where parents and caregivers don’t feel guilty for the fluidity of their lives. It’s okay to have commitments outside of work, it doesn’t make employees any less dedicated to their career.
Create A Supportive Community
Creating a community between parents and caregivers is a great way to bring employees together and create a space where they can share tips and offer support to one another. Managers and Leaders of businesses should also set an example and be open about their commitments – they shouldn’t shy away from talking about their children just because they are in a senior position. Lead by example and promote a culture where it is okay to talk about or take time out for family.
If a business is not perceived to be an inclusive employer, job motivation will decline. Companies need to ensure all employees feel seen, that includes working parents. Raising a family is hard, try to understand the perspective of these employees and be patient. Try to eliminate any negative unconscious bias; just because one employee leaves early to pick up their children from school, it doesn’t mean they are not working just as hard as other employees.
Make employees aware of your policies and offering
So, a company has implemented a number of offerings for parents and caregivers – Brilliant! However, do employees actually know about them? Many employees do not realise the supportive programs within their business exist or they don’t quite understand exactly what they are entitled to. Communicate often and make it really simple for employees to find out what benefit and support is available to them.
By showing parents and caregivers they are supported, valued and included; businesses can have a highly increased positive impact on employee morale and productivity in general. In addition, this culture will help to attract and retain exceptional diverse talent, to create a more innovative and successful workforce overall.