Employee Experience

How to support employees with children: 7 ways

5 Mins read

Employees with children should be supported with effective strategies so they can give their children the best possible start in life.

The initial 1,000 days of a child’s life are immensely consequential in shaping their future. During this period, the development of a baby’s brain occurs at an unparalleled rate.

Studies indicate that providing a child with appropriate nourishment, stimulating care, and a loving environment – is vital for ensuring the best possible beginning in life. Here’s some data to back us up: 

  • Studies have shown that the quality of a child’s early experiences can have a significant impact on their cognitive, social, and emotional development, as well as their long-term health outcomes. For example, a study published in The Lancet found that children who experienced neglect or adversity in early childhood were more likely to experience mental health problems later in life.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from conception to age two, are a critical period for brain development. During this time, neural connections are formed at a rate of up to 1,000 per second.

Due to long working hours, many parents are unable to spend significant amounts of time with their newborns and children. It’s not a choice but a necessity, since new parents worldwide lack family-friendly policies like paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks, and childcare.

To offer children the ideal foundation in life, parents require time and assistance. What can companies do to aid this cause? Here are 6 ways that businesses can help establish a more family-oriented workplace: 

Provide resources

Larry English, the writer behind the book “Office Optional: How to Build a Connected Culture with Virtual Teams” suggests that: “employers should offer resources to their employees, such as connecting them with other parents who have similar interests to form collective homeschools’ or share educational resources”. Alternatively, employers can consider utilizing their workspace by converting a conference room into a classroom. Another resource could be hiring a teacher or learning coach for the students. However, if this is not feasible, employers can still offer non-traditional benefits to their employees.
For example, Acuity Scheduling allowed their employees to send their children to Camp Cloud, a virtual summer camp. It allowed to keep them engaged in intellectually stimulating activities while their parents focused on their work. Providing these types of resources, employers can support their employees and their families, leading to a more productive workforce.

Offer paid family leave to all caregivers and encourage parents, especially fathers

Offer paid family leave to all caregivers and encourage parents, especially fathers, to take full advantage of it. Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey shows that only 23% of civilian workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave. This article highlights the need for companies to support working parents, including fathers, by offering them equal access to paid leave. The report also calls on companies to assist working parents in paying for child care, such as by offering flexible spending accounts, reimbursement for child-care expenses, and on-site child-care facilities. Subsidizing or offering backup child care is another way employers can help working parents. 

Model good practices

To foster a healthy work environment, organizations should develop good practices and a culture that promotes work-life balance. One way to achieve this is by offering flexible and remote work options. Further, you can encourage regular breaks, and prioritize productivity over working hours. Providing opportunities for employees to volunteer and increasing support for working parents are also essential steps towards building a healthy work culture. Additionally, organizations should re-evaluate their time-off policies and consider incorporating more child care benefits to better support working families. By prioritizing employee well-being and creating a positive workplace culture, companies can boost productivity and employee satisfaction.

Give customized solutions

To create a culture of empowerment, companies should avoid assuming that a one-size-fits-all approach to work schedules will work. Instead, offering workweek customization options can help employees tailor their schedules to fit their unique needs. For instance, some may prefer a four-day workweek with longer hours per day. Others may want to split their time between the office and remote work. By enabling employees to propose their own schedules, pending approval, companies can foster a culture of creativity and flexibility. Measuring work productivity and allowing for scheduling creativity can lead to a win-win situation for all parties involved.

employees_with_children

Breastfeeding at work

Enabling breastfeeding at work is an essential step towards promoting a supportive and inclusive work culture. One way to achieve this is by offering paid breastfeeding breaks, which can help new mothers to continue nursing while maintaining their work schedules. These breaks can be taken during work hours and should be provided in a private and comfortable space designated for breastfeeding.

Additionally, companies should provide adequate lactation facilities that include a private space, comfortable seating, and a refrigerator to store breast milk. It is crucial to create an environment that encourages and supports breastfeeding, where mothers feel comfortable and are not stigmatized for taking breastfeeding breaks or pumping milk at work.

Research shows that enabling breastfeeding at work has a positive impact on both the mother and the employer. In the US, the Affordable Care Act mandates that employers provide reasonable break time and a private space for employees to express breast milk for their nursing children. However, this policy only applies to companies with 50 or more employees, and it doesn’t guarantee that these breaks are paid.

Encourage transparency

Encouraging transparency and open communication is crucial to creating a supportive work environment for working parents. According to Harvard Business Review, 96% of working parents supported by their manager are less likely to quit their job.

To facilitate communication, companies can create regular opportunities for team members to connect with their managers, whether through one-on-one meetings or team check-ins. This will allow managers to provide feedback related to scheduling and priority management. This helps parents better balance their work and caregiver duties.

Be Prepared for interruptions

When working from home with children nearby, it’s essential to understand that a regular workday may not always go as planned. Meetings might be postponed or shortened because of family obligations. It’s vital to recognize that interruptions are inevitable, and sometimes, parents may have to attend a video call with their child on their lap. As an employer, it’s crucial to be flexible and accept that your employees with children are striving to balance both roles to the best of their ability. Moreover, if feasible, take the opportunity to interact with their children when possible. This helps building a positive relationship with employees and shows that you’re supporting them as a parent and a professional.

Conclusion

In conclusion, supporting employees with children is essential in promoting a positive work culture and boosting productivity. Employers can provide resources, offer paid family leave to all caregivers and model good practices. Further, they can offer customized solutions, enable breastfeeding at work, and encourage transparency. These strategies will create a family-friendly workplace, where employees feel supported, leading to higher productivity and job satisfaction. By investing in their employees’ well-being, companies can establish a positive reputation and attract top talent.

Further Reading:

How does AI help HR?
Methods of Enhancing Employee Productivity
Working Remotely and Productivity: Interesting Insights

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About author
Fatjona Gërguri is the content writer for Employee Experience Magazine, covering the relevant topics about employee experience, organizational culture and general HR topics.
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