Recent research has highlighted just how big an effect this could be having, so what should employers – including the smallest businesses – be doing to support the mums and dads in their workforce?
The impact on working parents
In a survey of 1,123 workers, global risk management and advisory firm Willis Towers Watson found that more than one in three parents (34 per cent) felt the task of balancing childcare responsibilities with work had negatively impacted their health, mentally or physically.
A third of respondents said their employer didn’t offer pay for maternity or paternity leave above the statutory minimum, while less than three out of ten (27 per cent) worked for organisations that provided childcare support or benefits.
Discussing the findings and the current situation for working parents, Mike Blake, director of Willis Towers Watson Health & Benefits, said the government’s new tax-free childcare scheme may help to ease financial burdens on working parents, but this is “just one piece of the jigsaw”.
“For some parents, additional benefits such as further financial support, access to a workplace nursery or provision of flexible working practices may prove invaluable,” he added.
What can employers do?
Introducing special measures to help working parents strike a fair balance between work and family commitments can make a positive difference to staff satisfaction and engagement. This, in turn, will deliver benefits for the business, such as higher productivity.
Here are some of the positive steps employers can take to meet the needs of the parents in their workforce:
Show understanding – Having an open, understanding attitude is the first step to engaging with the needs of your workforce. It puts you in a stronger position to keep your valuable employees happy by being aware of their needs and, if possible, catering to them.
Embrace flexibility – Flexibility is a concept that is growing in importance for modern workers and businesses. Working parents could benefit a lot from being able to tailor their hours or occasionally work remotely to fit their jobs around childcare. Being more flexible in all sorts of ways can also open up opportunities for the business, such as lower office costs and overheads.
Consider childcare support – Paying to offer increased childcare support or access to a workplace nursery could prove a worthwhile investment for businesses. If it helps to keep valuable existing staff on board, the company will benefit from their skills and experience, while avoiding the cost of having to recruit new employees.
Mr Blake stressed that there are many financial and operational advantages to be gained from supporting working parents, such as reduced sickness absence and a more motivated, productive workforce.
“Furthermore, support for this important workforce demographic can reinforce an organisation’s reputation as an employer of choice and, in turn, help boost recruitment and retention,” he added.
Posted by Julie Tucker
Image courtesy of iStock/HalfPointBack to Blogs