3 Reasons Why Creating Parent-Friendly Workplaces Is Critical
Employers understand that creating the right company culture, one that reflects an organization’s core values, is critical to attracting and retaining employees. Post-pandemic, many employers will find that employees will expect to work in a parent-friendly and supportive culture. Most parents, especially women, experienced the challenges of trying to balance remote working, parenting duties and home responsibilities during the pandemic. This led to a staggering number of women leaving the workforce altogether. As parents return to the workplace and a new post-pandemic “normal” takes shape, employers need to understand and prepare for the needs of their parent employees. Here are three reasons why companies should focus on creating more parent-friendly workplaces.
1. The Pandemic Changed Everything for Parents
In addition to the pandemic affecting companies’ bottom lines, the pandemic also personally affected millions of working parents across the country. A survey conducted last fall found that that 57 percent of U.S. employees said they were burnt out and both millennials and women reported the highest levels of burnout.¹ This statistic is understandable, as many employees shifted to working remotely, and for those with children the added burden of trying to manage day-to-day parenting responsibilities in parallel to their careers was overwhelming. The survey also revealed that employees who reported burnout said they were four times more likely to leave their organization after the pandemic compared to colleagues who are not burnt out (37 percent vs. 10 percent). That’s right, after the pandemic.
As your employees return to the workplace, they will likely have questions about what the organization can do to help them better maintain a successful work/life balance. Organizations must be prepared to discuss policies that support working parents including flexible scheduling, paid leave (for men and women) telehealth options, and lactation accommodation for those who will be pumping at work after the birth of a child. Policies should be written and pro-actively communicated to all managers and every employee upon their return. This is a critical first step in creating a more family-friendly environment for workers.
2. Different Generations of Workers Want Different Benefits
Organizations today are employing four generations of workers; Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y (Millennials) and now Gen Z. Creating the right culture that appeals to four generations is a challenge for today’s employers, especially as Baby Boomers continue to retire and exit the workforce. In the third quarter of 2020, about 28.6 million Baby Boomers reported that they were out of the labor force due to retirement (3.2 million more than in the same quarter of 2019.) As Baby Boomers depart from the workplace, many Gen X employees will be taking over senior leadership roles. Gen X employees value family leave, flexible scheduling, and a culture that values work-life balance. As these employees take over key leadership roles post-pandemic the demand for these benefits will be even more critical in order to engage and retain this group.
As emerging leaders, Gen Xers also understand they will be managing millennials and will need to create an environment and culture that is appealing to this group. By 2025 millennials will comprise 75 percent of employees² and most millennials look for companies that provide a good work-life balance. In fact, 78 percent of millennials surveyed believe their company should do more to support their health and well-being needs.³ More than 40 percent said that work stress was negatively impacting their life, and more than half had seriously considered changing their work situation due to stress. As millennials take on managerial roles with more responsibility and become parents, organizations would benefit from developing parent-friendly cultures where wellness benefits and family-friendly policies are in place. Among millennials, 60% said that being a parent is extremely important to their overall identity⁴ so they will be looking for companies that can help them successfully manage their careers and family life.
3. Employees Expect More Support from Managers
Anyone with supervisory responsibilities for another employee should be familiar with the company’s parental benefits and be prepared to answer questions their employees will have. HR professionals should train all managers on policies and benefits that can help support working parents, and ensure managers are prepared to discuss how their employee can re-engage, while balancing work and parental demands.
Managers also need to understand available support resources, such as Employee Resource Groups for new parents, formal or informal mentoring opportunities, on-site or back-up childcare benefits, as well as the organization’s sick leave policy in order to care for an ill child. If an employee is returning to the office after the birth of a child, the manager needs to understand the company policies regarding support for breastfeeding needs, including their Lactation Accommodation Policy, breast milk shipping services for employees who travel for work, and any lactation consulting or other support services available to the new parent.
As workers head back into the workforce, organizations that proactively review and develop parental benefit policies to create a more parent-friendly culture will be competitively positioned to attract and retain employees.
1. 2020 Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Workforce Burnout Survey
3. Welltock: Millenials Raising the Bar on Wellbeing https://info.welltok.com/millennial-wellbeing-report
4. Pew Research Survey, 2015