3 things working parents want from their employers

Unicef says it best: “The business case is clear: Investing in family-friendly policies helps improve workforce productivity and a company’s ability to attract, motivate and retain employees.”

The agency, part of the United Nations responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide, recommends that employers implement a number of strategies to support working parents.

These include a minimum of six months paid parental leave, the guarantee that women are not discriminated against, the proper enablement of breastfeeding at work, and supporting access to affordable and quality childcare.

Working parents in the U.S. have long been frustrated with what is on offer at their workplaces and while some companies are doing the work to support employees with families, a brighter light has been shone on the issue since the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced so many workers home. These days, offices in major American cities are under half as busy as before, according to data from security provider Kastle Systems.

According to Gallup data, six in 10 employees with remote-capable jobs want a hybrid work arrangement. About a third prefer fully remote work, and less than 10% want to be in the office. That part of the picture is abundantly clear, but for parents, what else do they really, really, want from their employers?

A 2021 survey of 1,500 working parents from family benefits platform Cleo found that 40% of the workforce is made up of parents. With churn already a massive concern across the entire U.S. workforce (In 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 47 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs) parents who feel included and supported in their workplace are 41% less likely to leave.

Additionally, Cleo’s survey discovered that over a third of parents planning to leave their job are doing so due to a lack of flexibility. Childcare is the most requested benefit by parents, but less than a fifth of working families have access through their employer.

Companies which offer additional family and health benefits that are tailored towards family and childcare will be ahead in the race for the best talent. For example, Adobe supports LGBTQ+ employees with progressive family planning and personal support benefits including same-sex dependent partner healthcare coverage, adoption and surrogacy assistance, and non-birth parent leave up to 16 weeks.

Professional services firm Deloitte has a considered suite of benefits and compensation for its people, with the aim of creating a culture that promotes personal and professional development. It offers (territory dependent) a wide range of programmes to support families, among other benefits. These include adoptive/surrogacy leave, parental leave and parents’ leave, as well as foster care and carers leave.

The company has also made provisions for how its teams want to work, with options for compressed working weeks in the summer, and hybrid working arrangements, which are of such importance and value to parents’.

Cisco too offers family-friendly benefits. The company’s paternal leave policy offers paid time off which is not determined by the gender of the parent, or which parent gave birth, but by which parent will be the primary caregiver. Grandparents who work there get three days off to help out when a new baby joins the family too, and the company also offers subsidized child care, paid time off, and insurance.

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