How to Keep Working Parents Working For You

Becoming a new mom or dad can present trials for both employees and employers. Working parents are looking for more work-life flexibility in order to continue working, but not completely sacrifice being a good parent. An August FlexJobs survey of 1,200 parents found 91% of working parents say having children living at home affects their interest in a flexible job.

At some point, many of your employees will ask themselves: “Do I want to go back to work after the baby arrives?” Here’s what you can do to help more employees answer “yes” to that question.

Be supportive from Day 1

Promo for babies at work articleLetting employees know from the moment they’re hired about your work-life flexibility for parents shows your support from the get-go. Let your employees know they won’t be penalized for becoming parents while working for you, and there are options available to keep both employee and employer happy through the process.

A popular example is Netflix’s updated parental leave policies. Netflix announced last year an unlimited maternal/paternal leave policy for the first year after the birth or adoption of a child. This doesn’t just mean their job will be held for a year, it means they receive their regular pay while they’re off as well. Benefits also include being able to come back to work for any period of time within that year and taking additional time off.

With many companies only offering six weeks of unpaid maternity leave, having a benefit like this can greatly increase employee happiness and retention rates.

Support career advancement opportunities

Working parents admit the balancing act between parental and job responsibparent and career difficultyilities is challenging. Most desire a work schedule that allows them to feel like they’re not neglecting parenting roles or career tasks.

Raising Kids and Running a Household: How Working Parents Share the Load, a 2015 survey by Pew Research Center, found 41% of women said being a parent makes it harder for career advancement, and 20% of men feel the same. With lack of career advancement being a top reason for job hopping, it’s important that your company offer support for parents who desire to grow within your company.

Have a one-on-one meeting with your working parents and ask them what their goals are, and how you can help them achieve that status. Then ask what new work-life balance needs are in their lives. This discussion lets employees know you’re considering their future at the company with a work-life balance option in mind.

Have an open door policy

Open door policies aren’t just for dealing with business issues. Even for the most dedicated employees, the first day back to work after being at home with a new child is extremely difficult. Let your new parents know it’s normal to have a rough time coming back to work, and you’re understanding of this.

Allow your office to be a safe place for employees to share the issues they’re dealing with being back at work, whether it’s office related or personal. Suggest working on a plan together to deal with these new obstacles. For example, if a new mom is struggling with being away from her child for the first time, offer a few hours for her to finish the day up at home.

Let dads in on the perks

When it comes to parental leave, some of us think primarily of maternal leave. But times have changed, and stay-home-dads are cropping up everywhere. For those who don’t want to stay at home, most do want a flexible job that allows for them to be part of their children’s lives.

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How Men Flex, a survey of 2,000 men and women by The Working Mother Report, discovered 60% of men say their employers allow flexibility. However, 26% believe their employer could do more.

Let men know they won’t be left out of the parental leave policies. Giving them the same options as your female employees gives the necessary support to show existing employees and job seekers you’re a company that cares about all of their employees.

What does your company offer working parents to keep retention rates high? Let us know in the comments below!

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.

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