How to Support Parents in the Workplace
I was barely eight years old when my brother was first enrolled in a creche. Nothing too fancy. My mother found a woman who took care of children up to 10 years of age. She looked after them with love, care and lots of delicious food! At least, that’s what my brother remembers.
He didn’t know how my mother, a teacher, would have continuous classes the whole day with little time for lunch or a bathroom break. She would pick me up and we’d set off to the creche on a wobbly rickshaw on a hot summer day. With my brother on my lap, we would then go home. Between our schoolwork, and her household responsibilities, my mother barely had time for a social life. Neither did my dad who struggled to find time for our 9 a.m. PTA meetings, requesting his boss for a half day of leave, even though it was only a 30-minute visit.
Sifting through old pictures, one can see the tiredness in their eyes and only imagine what such working conditions would have done to their wellbeing.
Working parents have additional responsibilities and without the support of their managers, they are prone to exhaustion and burnout. Though many modern offices have come up with a creche and family friendly policies, there’s still a long way to go.
Here’s how you can support parents in your organization:
Flexible working hours
Parents must be allowed to have flexible working hours so they can cope with additional responsibilities at home pertaining to their kids and families. There are instances where they need to help their kids with a project, attend a school event or go to PTA meetings. Flexible working hours will help employees with kids take care of work and home with ease without missing out on either. Contrary to popular belief, professional growth need not end because of parenthood. With the right kind of leadership, employees with kids can thrive on both fronts.
One of the biggest worries for parents in the workplace is, “Where do I leave my kids when I’m at work?”. Keeping kids away from themselves during the early days can be a huge source of anxiety for new parents. To support working parents, having an in-house creche is a great option. It reduces the likelihood of parents, especially mothers, quitting their jobs and putting their career on hold. It also provides a sense of comfort knowing that while they focus on their work, their kid is being taken care of just a few doors away, within reach.
While most organizations offer maternity leave, paternity leave is equally important. Children need the love, care and attention of both parents and paternity leave is the first step in this direction. Not only does it allow fathers to be around the mother and help her during one of the toughest and most physically exhausting times of her life, it also prepares them for the duties of fatherhood. Fathers who take more time off are reported as being more involved in their children’s lives, thus having a positive psychological impact on them.
Regular office policies may offer its employees a handful of days to take as sick leaves. However, parents are also responsible for the health of their children which means their sick leave tends to exhaust faster than those without kids. Without extra time off, some of them may be forced to leave their kids at the creche or with grandparents and spend the whole day working half-heartedly, wracked with worry. This leads to more errors at work and reduced productivity. Apart from this, you can also offer financial literacy sessions to look after their financial wellbeing so they can plan for their kids’ future efficiently.
This is the most important ingredient of all. Without empathy, you will not be able to understand their lives and offer the support such employees need. To offer flexible working hours or family-friendly policies, it’s important to understand a parent’s struggles. They need to be home on time to have at least one meal with their kids, help them with studies, projects or pick them up from school. Children need a lot of care and support during their early years to build a foundation of trust and love. Without the understanding and support of their leaders, employees will struggle to be good parents to their kids.
How many of these policies do you have at work to support parents? Tell us in the comments.