National Work Life Balance Week, 2-6th October 2017, is a great reminder to re-focus on the importance of getting this right for working parents. However, it will take more than putting on a few events to give working parents what they really need for longer-term sustainability: a culture that feels family-friendly on a day-to-day basis.
New research this week by Willis Towers Watson, reported by the CIPD, revealed that ‘more than a third (34 per cent) of parents feel balancing work commitments with family responsibilities has taken a toll on their health or mental wellbeing’.
Here are 3 ways we can build a longer-term culture that supports a healthy work/life balance:
1. Promote the policies
Many employees we work with are unsure of the support that is available to them both at a statutory level and in-house. If a single dad with a 16-year old son knows that he is able to take off up to 4 weeks a year unpaid leave to help his son through a difficult time, that may be the difference between that employee resigning or staying. How confident are you that all your employees know where to find information and further support on the following?
- Shared Parental Leave
- Dependent’s Leave
- Parental Leave
- Flexible working
- Maternity and paternity
2. Role-model flexible behaviour yourself
You could have the best and most-family friendly policies in the world, but if managers are continuously working long hours, never working from home, not talking about their families/home lives or taking time out to recharge, the cultural message received is that ‘this is not a flexible place to work.’
3. Encourage leadership development
Have all your leaders recently had access to learning and development around how to manage a flexible team? Do managers at all levels know how to support new parents at work? Leadership-style can have the biggest impact on the success of any returner from parental-leave, so it’s worth investigating the options to get your managers focused on managing flexibility – the new leadership skill.
Helen Letchfield is the Co-Founder of Parent and Professional, which focuses on career management coaching and workshops for employees who are parents. www.parentandprofessional.co.uk has details of workshops and coaching to support parents and managers.