Having a child is a truly life-changing event. It completely alters a person’s world and everything in it — including their work life. These days, 82% of U.S. parents are trying to balance work and parenthood, and it’s no easy feat.
As the fallout from COVID-19 continues, it seems the challenges for working parents are only increasing. Many are displaced from their typical work environments and working from home, and with many schools and daycares shut down, it means both parents and children are home together all day.
In September 2020 alone, a shocking 865,000 women were forced to leave the workforce. With nowhere to send their kids during the day, many mothers had to find time to cook, clean and supervise learning on top of their job duties. For many, there wasn’t any way to fit in a regular work schedule.
This staggering statistic illustrates how difficult it is to be a working parent, especially in the current reality. But don’t think that companies don’t care – many companies are looking for the best ways to support parents in their workplace.
So what are the best ways to support working parents? The answer isn’t as straightforward as one might think.
Different Parents Have Different Needs
Not all parents have the same issues. Think about the different struggles between the parent of an eight-year-old and the parent of a two-year-old. Eight-year-olds don’t need quite as much hands-on care, but they’re likely participating in virtual learning.
On the other hand, a two-year-old requires nearly constant vigilance. There’s potty-training, snacks, emotional turbulence and more. However, a two-year-old usually has naps and won’t have schoolwork.
Parental diversity isn’t just about children’s ages. Think about the different needs of parents with one child versus parents with four children. Think about the diverse needs of a single parent versus those with partners. The parents of a newborn are also in an entirely different realm of struggles. Then, add to that, parents of children with special needs.
On one side of the spectrum exists a two-parent household, with one child, all navigating being home together 24⁄7 and trying to juggle it all.
On the other end is the single mother of four, two with special needs, who’s an essential worker, and no longer has somewhere to send her children while she works.
For the partners at home, they might benefit from marital or family counseling. For the single mother, she might need childcare the most. For the parents of four children of various ages, they could use a virtual tutor and help with food.
Of course, these are all speculations. Parents have their own unique needs and challenges, and there’s no way to really know what they need. Moreover, there’s not one benefit that’s going to help all of them.
However, companies need to support and try to help ease the burden of all these needs and challenges. It’s not only the moral thing to do, but it’s the only way to ensure their employees can stay in the workforce and continue to pursue their career aspirations.
What are some ways to support the diverse pool of parents in today’s workforce?
Ideas for Supporting Parents in the Workplace
1. Offer Flexibility
Being a parent means there’s always a chance for the unexpected. Flexibility is a straightforward way companies can show support. Flexibility can mean work-from-home days, flexible schedule arrangements and more.
Ultimately, flexibility boils down to allowing parents to take a “child-first” approach. Suppose an employee knows they have the flexibility to take their children to the doctor, go to the soccer game or come in a little late after a long night with the newborn. They’re going to feel more supported and able to balance parenthood and work.
2. Create a Family-Friendly Work Culture
Creating a family-friendly work culture is a multi-faceted task. It starts with paid parental leave and flexible PTO, including days for physical and mental health. Flexible PTO is essential for working parents because they never know what needs are going to arise.
It also involves creating a space that encourages parents to talk about their children if they want. In a physical office, family-friendly companies can encourage their employees to hang up their children’s artwork or create a time to share funny kid stories. This can be duplicated in the virtual world via personalized profiles and dedicated parent chat Slack channels.
Parents are often expected to keep their family and children separate from the workplace. However, creating a family-centric culture allows parents to feel like they can proudly be parents without sacrificing their career ambition.
3. Provide Diverse Childcare Benefits
Some parents need full-time childcare, while others need gap or temporary childcare. Companies should consider offering solutions that fit all these parent’s needs. Rather
than just providing on-site care, companies can give childcare credit via apps like Bambino Sitters or Urban Sitters, which connects parents to local babysitters. A benefit like this allows parents to use sitters when they need them.
Childcare remains one of the most considerable challenges for working parents, even though many are working from home right now. After all, working from home doesn’t mean a parent is able to provide their own childcare, especially for parents whose children aren’t in school yet.
Childcare should always be an avenue to consider when trying to support working parents.
4. Offer Home Services and Delivery
No parent gets off work and says, “I can’t wait to go home and cook, clean and run errands.” Being a parent is a full-time job in itself. Companies can support working parents by providing home and delivery services to their working parents.
Food delivery, meal delivery or helpful home service solutions also help them carry the burden once they get home.
5. Consider Telemedicine (Including Mental Health Therapy)
In addition to comprehensive medical benefits, today’s parents need the flexibility of telemedicine both for their children and their own medical needs. Providing telemedicine services, including online therapy, could be incredibly beneficial for working parents.
Parents often put their children, work and everyone else before themselves, leaving them without much effort or time left for their own self-care. Providing the means for working parents to have online counseling and quick virtual doctor’s appointments is one way to support the overall well-being needs of working parents.
6. Think About Coordinating and Assistance
One of the most significant issues parents face, especially those who have children with special needs, is all the coordination that needs to be done. Finding specialists, therapists and coordinating quality care can require full-time attention.
Compassionate companies can help ease the burden for these parents by connecting them with a coordinating care provider or a specialist designed to remove the burden of figuring it all out alone. Another helpful solution is to make sure the company insurance covers behavioral and physical therapy. Companies can support these parents by providing additional means for parents with special needs children to afford the treatment they need.
7. Offer Customizable Lifestyle Benefits
The best way to support working parents is to provide a customizable lifestyle benefits package, so every parent can choose the benefits and support they need most to continue balancing parenthood and their career.
Fringe’s custom benefits platform is a perfect solution for companies who want to support all their working parents. With over 100 lifestyle benefits to choose from, there are benefits to match every parent’s unique needs.
From caretaking services to prenatal and postnatal care, to home services, mental health, talk therapy, telemedicine, self-care and more — Fringe has benefits to match every parent’s needs. Schedule a free demo today.