How to Help Working Parents Balance Home and Work Life

Working from home isn’t always easy, especially if you have kids at home

Here’s how you can help working parents in your company...

Working from home has been the norm for almost a year now, with many of us reaping the benefits of a shorter commute, complete control over the soundtrack to your working day and suits being replaced with athleisure. But, for some, working from home isn’t always easy.

Alongside emails, video calls and reporting, working parents are now having to manage home schooling, cartoons on the TV and constant requests for snacks.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a fifth of parents with school-aged children saying their work had been directly affected by the pandemic with children off school and home-school responsibilities.

With many employees considering a more permanent work from home policy, there could be a long-term impact on working parents. If you have working parents in your company, here’s a few ways you can support them:

Remember to communicate:

Communication is key for any successful workplace, but it’s particularly important during lockdown and when we’re all working from home.

Make sure to regularly talk to the working parents in your team about how they’re managing, if any ways of working needs to be changed or adapted and that they’re getting the right support. Try to make it a safe space so parents can be open and honest about what works for them right now.

You could even set up informal chats for working parents in the company. Home learning is new to most of us, so it can be a place for them to share top tips or talk about what they’re finding most difficult.

Be flexible:

For parents working from home, flexibility will be key so they can fit their work around looking after their children. According to the University of Birmingham only 50% of Mothers and 58% of Fathers said they could secure a stable block of time in which to work.

It’s important that employers are flexible for working parents, and other employees that would benefit from it. That could be agreeing certain times in the day where they’re available for calls and then allowing them to complete their agreed tasks whenever they can, whether that’s before the kids are awake or while they’re home-schooling.

Some parents, and other employees in your company, maybe concerned about potential negative perception of flexible working. So, take the time to reassure them and encourage an active uptake of flexible working. If those higher up in your business, or even line managers, have kids, make sure that they’re showing if, when and why they take up the opportunity to work more flexibly, and how that benefits them.

Allowing a greater level of autonomy and trust not only means working parents can balance their work and home commitments, but it also establishes you as an employer that cares about your team.

As an employer, offering flexibility will be key to attracting new talent and retaining your current employees. In the same study by the University of Birmingham, 52% of parents said they wanted to work more flexibility in the future having experienced the benefits of it over the course of the pandemic.

What works for some parents, won’t work for others, so it’s important to establish ways of working with each member of your team based on what works for them.

clear management is key:

We all know that the best jobs are made from having good management and having that in place can really support working parents. What’s reassuring is that 72% of employees surveyed by the University of Birmingham noted that their managers really care about the effect work demands have on their personal and family life.

Make sure all managers in your company know the policies on flexible working and can support any parents in their team.

Develop a more relaxed approach:

Working from home has its own set of unique challenges many of us hadn’t experienced until last year. We’ve all had virtual meetings interrupted by dogs, kids or even an unexpected delivery. Having a more relaxed environment, where children or pets can be seen and heard helps reduce the stress on all employees to make everything seem perfect.

The importance of self-care:

Self-care is a term that’s been growing in use for the last couple of years or so, and with a global pandemic we can all understand why.

Working from home can make it difficult to break up our personal lives and our professional lives, particularly those of us who don’t have a separate space to work, which can make it difficult to relax. Add in the stress of balancing work and childcare then, if we’re not careful, we can all run the risk of burnout. Which is where self-care comes in.

Make sure your employees, regardless of what they might be dealing with at home, take time to themselves. Give them reminders to switch off in the evening, don’t encourage employees to check work texts and emails outside of set hours. And make sure they’re using their annual leave to relax, not to catch up on work.

Employee benefits that can support working parents:

As well as being more flexible and communicating openly with your employees. There are some employee benefits that can help your employees balance work and home life, and look after their wellbeing.

Give them the option of more time off with Annual Leave Purchase:

Even though we’re not jetting off to warmer and sunnier climates, making use of annual leave (even during a lockdown) can be a great way to help relax and reduce stress. Whether it’s a day spent watching the latest series on Netflix, doing some DIY, or a board game marathon with the kids. Offering the option of annual leave purchase gives your employees the option to buy extra days off while spreading the monthly salary deductions over an entire year.

Stress relief with cycle to work schemes:

Many of us won’t be missing the commute, whether that was train, car, or bus. But this doesn’t mean your employees can’t make use of a cycle to work scheme. Exercise in general is a great way to boost your mood and your mental wellbeing and is a great stress reliever too! Plus, cycling combines getting active with being outdoors in the fresh air and exploring the local area, and can be a great way to spend some time with the family.

With a cycle to work scheme your employees can get the bike they want, spread the cost over 12 to 18 months and save up to 42% in tax and NI contributions!

Offer an employee assistance programme:

An employee assistance programme (or EAP) can help support your employees when they need it most. With our EAP they can access free, confidential mental health support with BACP-accredited counsellors 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

Remember to reward their efforts:

January isn’t always the easiest month of the year, between a lack of festive cheer, cold weather and lockdown this year. Why not reward your employees with something small to celebrate all their hard work, whether it’s a voucher they can spend on a take away night or treating themselves to some new cosy loungewear. Vouchers are a great way to show you appreciate your employees and creates a memorable experience for them.

How we can help:

We understand it isn’t always easy to know what employee benefits to offer your employees, whether they’re parents or not. If you want to learn more about the ways you can support your teams, and how they benefit, why not get in touch with our experts? They can help guide you through solutions and plans you can put in place to help your employee wellbeing.

Click here to find out more about providing support for your employees with an Employee Assistance Programme

Sources:

Office for National Statistics – Parenting in lockdown: Cornoavirus and the effects on work-life balance
University of Birmingham – The future of work is flexible