Learning & Development

How HR Can Help Employees Balance Parenting and Career in the Work-From-Home Era

Balancing parenting and a career is almost magical. So many parents balancing a career would say, “I don’t know how I do it, but I do.”

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Add working from home to the mix, and working parents really have a challenge on their hands. Some of your employees may be thriving in this new norm, while others could use some extra support from HR and company leaders.

Don’t let the stress of working from home and tending to family be why your employees leave. Better yet, don’t let your lack of support and understanding of working parents be why they’re not as productive and motivated as they can be.

Parents balancing a career in the work-from-home era need specific support to thrive in their workplace. Here’s how to provide it. 

Find the Real Pain Points

Most companies want to support their employees. They just have no idea how to do it. It’s interesting that these companies also fail to tap the one resource that could tell them exactly how to provide adequate support: their employees.

You’ll never know what your employees genuinely need if you don’t ask them. Finding the real pain points they’re experiencing and providing direct support for them are key.

Getting meaningful insights from employees starts with building personal relationships. Establish rapport with them from the first interaction, and continue communicating openly. Also, take an interest in their lives and how they think.

Additionally, be sure you’re working with employees with varying family structures. You should be talking to parents of all genders and ages with different numbers of children in households of varying ages. And don’t forget about adoptive parents, three-generation households, and LGBTQ+ couples.

The reality is that each employee who is balancing parenting and a career while working from home has a different family structure. Therefore, it’s best to get to know them all so everyone feels honored and supported. 

Flexibility Must Be the Norm, Not the Exception

To truly address all of the unique pain points your employees are experiencing while working from home and parenting, flexibility has to be first. Everyone’s needs are going to be different, so don’t try to fit your employees around a standard. 

Instead, take what you’ve learned about them and what they’re going through, and use it to create the schedule, role, responsibilities, and resources they need to thrive.

For example, offer a choice of fully remote, in-office, or hybrid schedules that can be adjusted when needed. Give them a choice of their days off, as well as roles and responsibilities that boost their confidence and self-esteem, and don’t penalize them for calling out or needing to leave early. Make it so they don’t have to choose between family and work.  

Despite what some company leaders may say, you aren’t “spoiling” your employees by giving them what they need. Instead, you’re showing them you care about them as people and that you care about their being happy at and with your company long term.

Keep Your Employees Paid and Armed with Benefits

Flexibility is great, but it’s even better coupled with good pay and a solid benefits package. Adequately compensating and arming your employees with individual and family benefits is critical if the goal is to create a solid support structure. 

Offer your employees on all levels the best medical, dental, and vision benefits you can provide. They should have no problem putting their entire family on their plans.

Also, make these benefits available, or encourage employees to take advantage of them if they already are:

  • Paid child care
  • Eldercare resources
  • Stipends for college tuition and expenses
  • On-site day care
  • Employee assistance program
  • Health savings plans
  • Retirement benefits
  • Financial planning
  • Mental health support
  • Maternity and paternity leave
  • Paid vacation and sick time
  • Resources for prioritizing well-being in the workplace

Your employees shouldn’t have to fight for fair pay either, so go above and beyond their compensation expectations. It’s tough enough managing a family and working from home. Reward their willingness to navigate working from home and parenting with financial security.

Furthermore, think outside the box to provide working parents with additional resources tailored to family support. For example, send out family bonding ideas in your company newsletter each month. Attach action plans at the end or family-friendly discount codes, coupons, and event invites they can use to try the activities you’re suggesting. 

As much as your work-from-home employees will appreciate solid pay, adding benefits and creative family resources to the package shows them even more how supportive you are of them and their families.

Build a Workplace Culture Rooted in Acceptance and Support

The above tips won’t stick without the right workplace culture.

For example, let’s say your company leaders encourage working parents to take time off when they need it, but they’re promoting and giving more support to the people who never take a day off.

In this case, your work-from-home employees with families will take notice. As a result, they’ll start feeling like they can’t miss a minute of work if they want to get the support and recognition they deserve. They’ll work like crazy and end up burning out, and their families will suffer, too.

Instead, build a company culture rooted in acceptance, and normalize being a parent, working from home, and navigating family life in your company. Connect working parents across the organization, leaders included, so everyone can lean on one another for support.

The Bottom Line

Genuine support for your employees balancing parenting and a career in the work-from-home era means more to them than you’ll probably ever know. But true support means finding out their real pain points and requires flexibility.

It also means paying employees handsomely and arming them with comprehensive benefits. But, most importantly, true support for working parents starts with a solid company culture rooted in acceptance. 

Katie Brenneman is a Guest Contributor at HR Daily Advisor.