Being a parent is a full time job on its own. No working parent wants to be stuck with a boss who undervalues their contribution to the company. So what is the best way to retain and reward your employees who are also juggling the responsibility of being a parent?
Kirsten tells us a bit about her experience as a working parent.
That fear and uncertainty of working for an unsympathetic manager always made me work harder toward the exit. A place where I would be rewarded and recognised for my hard work. Where mutual respect between employee and employer is the norm and the company tries their best to retain their staff. Word of mouth and my solid reputation as a hard worker and high performer assured me of the next job and, even when bad bosses grumbled about shorter hours and unanswered emails when my children were sick, I had new priorities, I was still good at my job, but I sure didn’t want to do it 24/7 anymore.
As a mother with two kids, I have to work and be a parent. Even if it is financially viable, many parents simply don’t want to give up their careers, as they find them rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, I love to spend time with my children but I also need to communicate with adults and stimulate my brain. It is rewarding to be acknowledged for the work we do as employees and prove to the world but mainly ourselves that we can be both; a parent and an employee.
Once you become a parent, your world completely changes. There are days I need to take sick leave, even when I’m not the one who is actually sick. There are days when I have to arrive late or leave early, and days when I can’t make it in. But I’m also no longer a rookie at anything. My time management skills are amazing since I stepped foot into motherhood. I have learned to multitask my work, look after my children and still be a supportive wife. I have become better with time management and productivity.
I’m intimidated by my workload, as long as no one minds if I get it done between dropping off one kid and picking up another, or after everyone’s bedtime. Good leaders accommodate flexibility, they care about the work being done, not the time involved. They share credit, not blame. They also normalise the experience of working while having kids and don’t force you to hide your parenting responsibilities.
If you are a leader who doesn't have children of your own, here are a few tips on how to retain and reward your best working parents.
One of the easiest things to do is to simply open the lines of communication. Send that message. Being understanding when an employee is juggling their work-life with their home-life, helps to build trust.
By implementing a parent employee resource group, parents can connect and receive the much-needed support to pursue their career goals while integrating their new role as parents. If you want to retain your best staff who are also working parents, put systems in place that provide the support they need.
Companies have a long way to go on their path to gender equality. Look into your maternal and paternal leave policy. Are new parents given the option to choose how they split their leave? Are dad’s given the same compassion to look after sick children as mom’s are?
Most employees benefit from more flexibility at work, but parents who are often at the mercy of tight child care schedules, benefit even more. In professional settings, allowing employees more flexibility enables everyone to manage their responsibilities better.
Learn from other companies who provide childcare. One example is Patagonia who have included an innovative on-site child care facility since 1983. They believe that working families are at the heart of responsible business. Children exposed to their parents at their workplace make for better adults as they understand the values of hard work. Their emotional intelligence is better for having closer contact with their parents.
Respecting time outside of work allows parents to spend quality time with their children, building stronger family bonds. Allow working parents their family time as they’ll return to the office feeling more fulfilled.