Millions of employees are parents too. Trying to balance work and parenting is one of the toughest challenges to take on. But working parents are and will continue to be an integral part of your team, making advocating for better working conditions for them critical.
Managers and team leaders are responsible for ensuring working parents are adequately supported and celebrated in the workplace. Gaining a better understanding of what working parents need to thrive is the first step. Then, embrace these five tips to improve working conditions for parents on your team.
Offer Better Healthcare
Maternity care has absolutely changed due to the pandemic. For example, prenatal and postpartum appointments are offered virtually. You can’t bring as many people into the delivery. Your stay at the hospital after birth is shorter. And there’s a hyper-focus on mental health resources and support.
With these changes in mind, it’s a good idea to review your healthcare plan to see how you can improve it to ensure expecting moms get the care and support they really need right now.
Your healthcare plan should cover telehealth visits. Mental health resources should be built into it. Cover hospital stays entirely if you can, and include family support services like family counseling in your healthcare plan.
A comprehensive healthcare plan enables parents to better care for themselves and their children.
Provide Mental Health Support and Accommodations
Parenting is one of the most stressful responsibilities a person can have. From sky-high childcare costs to post-partum depression to child illnesses, we never seem to get a break from parental stress.
Stress from parenting can exacerbate existing mental health challenges or give rise to new ones. So, ensuring your workplace has robust mental health support and accommodations is critical for improving working conditions for parents.
Access to discounted or free therapy and counseling is a great first step. You should also consider the following mental health accommodations for your workplace:
- Using modified break schedules
- Offering unlimited paid time off
- Making your office pet-friendly
- Allowing support and service animals
- Hiring a mental health support person or team
- Designing special use spaces like quiet rooms or exercise spaces
Mental health support and accommodations are essential for working parents to thrive personally and professionally.
Expand Parental Leave Policies
Parental leave is one of the best benefits to offer your employees. Often, fathers don’t get as much, if any, time off when they have a child. Moms, on the other hand, get some time off, but not nearly enough. But both parents deserve ample time to enjoy their new baby without fearing losing their jobs.
Expanding parental leave policies is critical in your efforts to advocate for working parents on your team. Allowing new parents up to a year of paid parental leave is ideal. But do as much as you can with the budget and resources you have now, and commit to an ongoing fight for more time off.
In addition, your parental leave policies should include employees who become parents in nontraditional ways, like adoption or surrogacy. Ensure all types of parents in your company get to spend time with their new bundles of joy.
With expanded parental leave policies, you can ensure new parents get as much time as they need to bond with their babies.
Offer Childcare Assistance
One of the most notable challenges working parents face is not having anyone to care for their children when they’re at work. According to move.org, “On average, infant child care costs $216 a week, which is 17.1% of the national median household income.”
Paying over $800 a month for childcare isn’t realistic for many parents, especially single parents. Providing child care assistance to your employees would help them breathe a sigh of relief.
You could start with a stipend they can use at local childcare facilities. Then, work toward completely covering child care expenses or creating an in-house daycare in your company.
Child care assistance can be a huge relief for working parents, especially financially.
Implement Flexible Schedules
If a working parent needs anything from leadership, it’s flexibility. Parenthood is unpredictable at times. Working parents need managers that genuinely understand this.
Offering your working parents flexible scheduling options will give them the space to prioritize their families as much as they do their careers. Whether an entirely remote schedule or a hybrid one, be sure it’s tailored to each working parent’s life. Also, be so flexible that they can adjust their schedules whenever they need to.
Flexible schedules enable working parents to navigate the uncertainties of parenthood while still fulfilling their job responsibilities.
Working parents are just as integral to a company’s success as employees who aren’t parents. Supporting their unique needs may require extra effort, but it is worth the advantages of having working parents on your team.
With the tips above, you can advocate for working parents in your company and ensure they manage these two huge responsibilities simultaneously and as seamlessly as possible.