Here at myhrtoolkit, we know that small business owners are always looking for ways to support their employees, as this benefits their business by improving loyalty, productivity and reduces absenteeism. One of the key areas where businesses can support their employees is through supporting working parents.
We recognise that it is not always easy for small businesses to provide the same level of support as larger organisations, so we have consulted Parental Choice for tips and some quick wins on what you can do in the workplace for employees who are parents.
Parental Choice work with businesses of all sizes to provide programmes of support for parents in the workplace. We asked them why and how small businesses can help working parents.
Why support parents at work specifically?
Do you know how many of the employees in your business are working parents? This is a question we ask all our potential clients. The majority don’t know the answer; the closest we get is how many women they have on or due to go on maternity leave.
Being a parent brings with it a unique set of pressures and, unfortunately, it is not always easy to leave them at the office door. This can result in a reduction in productivity, with around 80% of parents in a Harvard Business Review report stating their caring responsibilities affect them at work.
It could be as simple as feeling guilty for having to finish earlier than other team members, or having to juggle taking time off to look after a sick child, to just having worries on their mind over their teenagers’ anxieties.
Aren't these initiatives just for large businesses?
Not at all! Obviously, if you are a large business with extensive budgets for staff benefits and rewards, it could be considered easy to implement a new initiative for working parents. However, we believe small steps can have a real impact for very little cash investment.
Many of our suggestions below can be implemented with very little impact on your bottom line.
What can employers do to help working parents?
As an employer there are some quick wins which will help your employees who are parents stay on their ‘A game’ and remain productive, therefore benefiting your business.
First and foremost, recognise your working parents and carers have these responsibilities outside their workplace.
Get a better handle on the responsibilities of your workforce. Use staff HR surveys to get an understanding of their needs, concerns and how they can be helped. This will lead to you being able to design a programme which will help them.
Create a parents’ network. This can be done with little or no budget, you just need willing volunteers to run it. A parents’ network encourages sharing of ideas, provides natural support during challenging times, and offers great social opportunities. The Harvard Business Review gives some great advice on setting up a successful network.
Consider flexible working. Childcare in particular can be very inflexible, so take away the stress of fitting work around childcare by offering parents ways of working around their routines. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive they will be when they aren’t worried about their child’s care and have flexible working options in place.
Help them with the logistics of care. While employees would love assistance with paying for childcare, the majority of businesses are not in a position to do this; however, all businesses can help their employees find long term dependable childcare. This could be a nanny, nursery place, a childminder in their area or a school for very little cost.
Finally, think about having a wellness programme. Provide employees with coping strategies for tricky situations to reduce stress; create confidence boosting clinics to reassure them they are doing well; finally, make sure you are remain the employer they choose to work for. If you don’t, your talented employees may walk out the door.
Related article: Workplace wellbeing: is it going mainstream?
How can Parental Choice help?
Parental Choice is the provider of choice for many businesses, both large and small in the UK who recognise what it is to be a working parent. We create bespoke support, benefit and reward programmes for businesses of all sizes.
These programmes include:
- Childcare searches covering nannies, nurseries, childminders and schools
- Administration services for payroll, legal and pensions when employing a nanny
- Working Family Wellbeing programmes of talks, clinics, seminars, webinars and lunch and learn sessions
- Global Mobility support for relocating families
Written by Sarah-Jane Butler
Sarah-Jane is Founder and CEO of Parental Choice, who create bespoke support, benefit and reward programmes for working parents and carers that are suitable businesses of all sizes.