This is reflected in “working parent guilt”, experienced by 66% of men and 60% of women.
Regardless of gender or reason for parental absence, all working parents should feel adequately supported by their workplaces when returning to work.
Why is it Important to Support Working Parents as they Return to Work?
Returning to work after a prolonged period of time, for example maternity or paternity leave, can be exciting but daunting.
Employees come and go, while working tasks change over time. Returning parents have to learn new names and faces, while getting to grips with new tasks and managing their new work-life balance.
It is crucial workplaces support returning working parents as they navigate this new territory. Such support will prevent feelings of resentment creeping in, while large staff turnovers can be avoided, retaining returning talent and using this experience to develop new staff and improve the workplace.
How Can Businesses Support Working Parents when they Return to Work?
Returning to work can be a challenge, particularly for new parents, as they acclimatise to the responsibility of juggling a new baby alongside their existing workloads. Working parents with multiple children will also face new challenges.
A study has revealed just 14% of male working parents had never had a request for leave turned down. Clearly there needs to be more flexibility from employers for all working parents, men and women.
With a Eurobarometer study revealing only 1 in 4 Irish workers receive flexible arrangements, it is crucial Irish businesses improve to allow working parents the satisfaction of a positive work-life balance.
Whether it’s a dental appointment, or a sports day, allowing working parents the breathing space to balance their work more flexibly can only be positive for a working environment.
Flexible arrangements can include:
· Work from home days
· Temporary or permanent part-time arrangements
· Job shares
Such arrangements can enhance employee wellbeing, and prevent large staff turnover, allowing a business to retain their talent and their capacity for superior performance.
Employees seeking to ‘up their game’ and take on new tasks could also be utilised by a business to take the pressure of returning working parents. While not replacing the returning employee, by having an extra pair of hands on a task, businesses can improve a working environment while ensuring that their performance does not suffer.
An inclusive working environment is crucial for returning staff. Not only will they need to acquaint themselves with new staff but begin to learn new tasks and remember old ones.
An inclusive culture where all staff feel that they can interact with each-other frequently and cohesively can only benefit an organisation. By fostering an inclusive culture, new or childless staff and returning staff can be provided the space to get to know each other, and to develop positive dynamics for the workplace.
Developing such relationships between staff will prevent resentment towards workloads from either staff group, while growing understanding between colleagues and the professional and personal challenges they may face.
In the final article of this series, the importance of a parent-friendly culture and its positive impact on the workplace will be explored more in-depth.