You are bound to have more than one working parent on your team that is not only dealing with the stress of the job but the gargantuan task of raising a child. Whether your workers are expecting twins or have a newborn baby at home, the decisions you make to support them in the workplace can greatly affect the quality of their work, not to mention their long-term dedication to an employer that supports them when they need it most.
In recent years, more and more organizations have made a larger commitment to creating a parent-friendly workplace. Beyond the more commonplace new arrivals of breastfeeding areas and extended maternity/paternity leave, we chatted with C-level executives to hear how they are making the workplace more supportive of new parents.
Paid Parental Leave
It seems like a no-brainer, right? Nobody should be punished for deciding to expand their family and they shouldn’t have to burn through their vacation days to raise their children. As states get more generous with the required amount of leave days for new parents, be a leader and go beyond what is expected.
For years it seemed like working remotely would be the death of any business that opted to give their workers the freedom to work from their homes. Then the pandemic happened. Now, almost every company has realized that most of the jobs can be done from the comfort of your couch. If you have a kid at home, you know how precious those early days are. Companies are quickly seeing the benefit of giving their employees a real work-life balance.
“In the new world that we live in, it has become easier than ever to allow workers to work from home. If you are a new parent and being away from your child seems like too much to ask, stay home! Be in the room with your child and enjoy their childhood. We can afford to have you call in via zoom if needed.” – Chris Vaughn, CEO of Emjay.
Bring the Kids to Work
If an employee needs to be in the office for whatever reason, let them bring their child along with them. Everyone loves seeing a baby and it can even boost office morale. Don’t worry about the distraction; there are plenty of those in the workplace that you will never be able to remove. Seeing a co-worker’s kid will lift your employees’ spirits and build a deeper sense of community at the same time.
“It’s good for office morale. If your co-workers are supposed to be your team members, you should be invested in their well-being. Having a child is an extension of that. Bring your child to work. We have meeting rooms available to you if you need some privacy with them. If we’re dog-friendly, we are certainly kid-friendly!” – Vino Jeyapalan, CEO and Founder of Kabo.
There’s no reason to focus on timesheets and hours worked when an employee has a kid at home; it’s just not realistic. Instead, commit to focusing on the quality of their output because that’s what matters in the long run.
“If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that people, for the most part, are actually very accountable. They want to do good work even without the constant supervision of their bosses. New parents are dealing with a lot at home, but it’s unlikely that their work will actually suffer on the whole. Especially if you give them the tools to succeed.” – Will Watters, Co-founder and Creative Director at Western Rise.
Listen to Feedback
If a new parent is telling you that they feel overworked or underappreciated at the office, listen up! It’s been said that there is no harder job than being a parent, so pay attention when one tells you something in the office isn’t right.
“Being a parent is the hardest job you are going to have. It’s on us to make sure their career isn’t keeping them from being good parents. If one of my employees with kids at home tells me that there’s an issue that is keeping them from doing their best work, you better believe I am going to listen.” – Alex Czarnecki, CEO and Founder of Cottage.
Allowing employees to have flexibility is crucial when they have a kid at home and will pay off in the long run. We’ve already seen how beneficial flexibility has been in the big tech companies. Let that same mindset flow into your workplace and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.
“I try to give all my employees flexibility, but extra attention is given to ones with kids at home. Emergency with the nanny? Go ahead and handle it. I’ve seen the work you do, I know you are accountable. And guess what? When we allow our employees this level of flexibility, they return the favor by doing amazing work. It’s a win-win.” – James Shalhoub, Co-founder of Finn.
Offer a Support Program
There’s no manual for raising kids, so it helps to have a community to fall back on. If you can provide one for your workers, you should. Let your employees feel like their office can be a place to turn when they need support.
“It takes a village, right? If we can offer employees a way to connect and have some support, we are going to. Whether it’s something as simple as a Slack channel where new parents can connect, or a monthly get-together to talk about babysitters. Whatever helps ease the weight of raising a kid.” – Hector Gutierrez, CEO at JOI.
While many bosses might feel inclined to keep their employees at arms reach, you really shouldn’t. An employee with a kid should feel like they have the support of their higher-ups and shouldn’t be afraid to reach out when needed. Communication is key, after all.
“I try to make sure the parents at my workplace are never afraid to chat with me. I ask a lot of questions about their kids and encourage them to share pictures. I want them to know that I have empathy and am available if they need to talk. I just try to create the environment that I wish I had when I was working my old jobs.” – Ann McFerran, CEO at Glamnetic.
Lead by Example
If you happen to be a parent as well as a boss, you can use your experience and position to lead by example. It can really change the way your employees view being a parent in the workplace if they know that their leader has been there before.
“I try to make a point to talk about my kids and show my employees that I am able to be both a leader and a good parent. The two don’t need to be mutually exclusive. I mean, if someone like me can do it, I think my employees realize it can’t be that hard! It also lets them feel more comfortable about approaching me with questions or time-off requests because they know I’ve been there and will approach it from a place of understanding.” – Jared Hines, Head of Operations Acre Gold.
Plan for their Return
Once your employees have taken their leave and feel ready to come back to work, try to make it an easy transition. Coming back to the office after having a kid can feel overwhelming, so it helps when a plan is in place to ease back into the flow of things.
“Returning to work after having a child is a daunting task. It’s best practice to make sure a plan is in place so when the time comes for one of my employees to get back to work they know exactly what to expect. It might even feel like you have to relearn everything because you have been away for so long. I try to communicate with new parents who are returning and make sure we can both agree on a sustainable plan for their return. It’s not going to be like it was before now that they have a kid at home and that is going to take some getting used to. We want to help make it an easy process and let them know we are there for them.” – Justin Chan, Growth Manager at JuneShine.