6+1 Ways Leaders Can Support Working Parents

PERKS Editorial Team

PERKS Editorial Team


May 13, 2022

6+1 Ways Leaders Can Support Working Parents

Below, we talk about 7 ways to support working parents at work.

An emphasis on work-life balance has been at the center of People & Culture leaders’ conversations, especially since the pandemic. With the phenomenon of work from home options, work and personal lives have been blended in a way that we have not experienced before. The focus has shifted and it’s probably not going to change any time soon. If we have learned anything at all, organizations need to keep our people first and accommodate their unique needs so that they can thrive. This is the workplace of the future.

Since the industrial revolution, the number of women entering the workforce has continually increased throughout the years. According to Pew Research, 46% of families have two working parents with children ages 17 and under. That’s half of the workforce! With the new norm of shared parental responsibilities and blended families, accommodating the majority of the population is definitely something that people leaders ought to keep top of mind. Besides offering work from home options, what other ways can organizations support the needs of working parents?

Benefits & Policies
The first step is to remind employees of all existing programs already in place that pertain to their situation. Oftentimes, employees don’t read the handbooks (surprise, surprise) and aren’t aware of any of the benefits that are available to them. Make sure that you designate specific individuals within the HR team to help your employees access the information they need in regards to family leave, childcare benefits, and any other written policies.

Flexibility with scheduling
Working is hard. Being a parent is hard. We all know there’s not enough hours in the day to be perfect at both. Leaders, allow your employees to be present for their children and trust that they will be responsible for their deliverables - so they can take their kid to their doctor’s appointment or show up for that soccer game. And who can forget the most obvious: being there to pick up the little one from school!

People support
Surprisingly, a lot of individuals in your organization will share many of the same struggles as working parents. Allowing these employees to build relationships and network with each other can be a vital solution to a lot of the challenges and struggles happening in their family and personal lives. We’re a big proponent of resources and tools, so collect those e-brochures and articles, create Slack channels where you can share what works, and form employee resource groups (ERGs) to provide support for those who need it. Offer various options so that people can access wherever and whenever they need assistance. 

Human component of culture
We’ve spoken at length about this, but empathy and compassion will be instrumental in building strong relationships within your organization. These relationships are important for workplace culture, so be genuine. Allow space when it’s requested and have the sensitivity to check in on someone if they look frazzled. Sometimes life gets in the way, so the focus is to be accommodating to your team members. Remember the big picture: it’s not how people are getting things done, but the final result. You can manage your team and still be empathetic at the same time.

Lead by example 
This will likely be the hardest thing to accomplish from this list, but leading by example is the most important of all these suggestions. For instance, if your son was born yesterday, are you back the day after? That may unintentionally set the standard and expectation for your employees to do the same - or feel pressured when they don’t. Be the example of what you want your team members to live out.

Reward and Recognize
As a leader, you know your people best. When you see the effort they are putting in despite having to take care of a sick child, acknowledge that! A word of encouragement can go a long way, and even inspire others to follow suit. It also establishes the kind of positive culture where team members recognize one another for their work and are compassionate towards one another. 

Bonus: Personalize your support system 
If you need some ideas for supporting your working parents, the Family section in our PERKS Marketplace can help you get started. There are options for learning and enrichment, childcare and supplies. This is a creative way to introduce family benefits and offer meaningful perks to working parents on your team. Because your people know best what they need, they have the flexibility to choose what works for their individual situations.

In short, working parents make up a large portion of your workforce. Being accommodating of their unique needs and working styles will enforce a culture of belonging. As always, gather feedback, pivot if necessary, and gather more feedback. The better you support and invest in your team members, the more they’ll support and invest in your organization. It’s a two-way street!