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Recruitment 101: 5 Ways to Better Support Working Parents

April 13, 2022 0 Comments

Higher wages are one way to retain staff, but there are other creative ways to support (and keep!) parents in your workplace.

Few would argue that higher salaries are key to attracting and keeping talent, alongside other important factors such as workplace culture and company reputation.

However, two years of a global pandemic and working from home (WFH) for many has shaken up some of the more established norms around the workplace, and employees have been rethinking what their working lives look like.

For parents in particular, the pandemic years highlighted the pressures of juggling professional and family/personal commitments. On the one hand, it saw working parents trying to do a Zoom meeting while their children ran wild playing hide and seek in the background or having to hit a deadline as they tried to home school their brood.

And, on the other, working from home meant working parents were given back precious hours each day they might usually spend commuting or found themselves able to knock off a few home duties on their lunch break, freeing up quality time to spend with their loved ones.

Now, as we return to what looks like a somewhat more normal life, employers have begun asking employees to return to the workplace and more standard work routines and practices.

But going forward, the smartest and most progressive employers will take lessons from the pandemic and apply them to supporting working parents better. Here are five simple ways to do this.

1. Retain the flexibility

Many workers are now accustomed to the WFH flexibility the pandemic years have given them in their roles.

While this was already the norm in some industries or professions, it has become so much more widespread over the past two years that it is now almost as endemic as COVID has become. And the good news? 

Several studies have shown productivity has generally increased with WFH, so it’s been a win-win for both employers and employees.

So, continuing to offer some form of location and working hour flexibility to employees, but particularly working parents, is a surefire way to show them you understand the pressures they face but also that you trust them to get the job done a little more on their terms.

2. Leave

Paid parental leave is a government-enshrined right that the primary carer of a newborn or newly adopted child has when they first welcome a child to their family.

And in the 2022 Australian Federal budget, changes were made to offer more flexibility to how this is taken by combining the 18 weeks of primary carer leave with the two weeks of “dad and partner pay”, although, admittedly, this move has been met with some scepticism about its effectiveness.

Despite this, employers have it in their power to offer parental leave above and beyond this as they see fit, which has become more possible financially since the government scheme came into effect.

Offering other forms of parental leave, such as paid carer leave when children are unwell or special leave to attend to other parental responsibilities (for example, managing children through school holidays), further shows a company empathises with and supports parents they want to retain in their workforce.

Gorilla Jobs Blog Ways to Support Working Parents Woman Working On Laptop At Home On Couch Daughter Jumps On Couch Next To Woman
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

3. Subsidies

For many working parents, even those with family support like willing grandparents, one of the greatest family costs they face is for childcare, second only to child healthcare and, a little later down the track, education.

By offering some ongoing support to help with these costs or, in the case of early childcare, going the whole hog and setting up a facility onsite that is heavily or fully subsidised, parents will feel supported and encouraged to remain in their current role as this pressure on them is relieved.

4. Keep talking

Just as flexibility is the number one priority for many working parents, flexible attitudes to their family situations sit alongside this.

This means that keeping an open dialogue with them about the challenges they face and staying abreast of what their priorities are to help reassess measurable outcomes in the workplace will ensure an employer is meeting their needs and getting the best out of them in the workplace. 

Also consider tapping into their experiences and knowledge to help formulate family-friendly policies. This further illustrates trust in them and their ability to help shape a healthy company work culture that acknowledges how important family is.

5. Focus on results

By focusing on results as much as billable hours or hours worked, the narrative around productivity shifts towards outcomes as opposed to just what it takes to achieve these (so, in effect, a solutions mindset).

And, as per the last point, when working parents are drawn into a discussion as to how they can offer their professional best given their family situations, more productive solutions to achieve workplace outcomes might be discovered.

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