Working parents, specifically working moms, are leaving their jobs at an astounding rate to take care of their families. And while the United States faces a 33-year low in female workforce participation today, this is not just a women’s issue; it’s an economic issue impacting every sector and industry. Businesses are losing $13 billion a year in productivity costs due to childcare challenges faced by their workforce. Finding a sustainable solution to helping working parents return and stay in the workforce perhaps never has had higher stakes, as its far-reaching impact extends beyond just the health of our families and children to the future of businesses’ success and our nation’s economy as a whole.
Recognizing the urgency of this issue, business leaders are uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of this multifaceted solution by putting in place policies and benefits that not only help families but also are good for business. By implementing a research-backed policies proven to help working parents and businesses’ bottom line, business leaders will be able to help reengage a key growing sector of the workforce while giving their company a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent. Remote work and flexibility have risen to the top of this list of policies that are proving beneficial for working parents while having a clear return on investment (ROI) for business.
As the workplace continues to shift and more companies are struggling to decide whether to return to a completely in-person or hybrid work setting, business leaders from nearly every industry are strongly considering the pros and cons of this decision and how it impacts various employee groups. While not every role can be performed remotely, businesses that are able to offer some flexibility for their workforce are gaining a competitive edge in the race for talent. A recent survey showed that 82% of working mothers wanted location flexibility—an all-time high since summer 2020. Another report revealed that 83% of millennials would change one job for another with better family-friendly supports.
While the benefits of remote work may be obvious, numerous studies also detail the benefits to business performance. According to a study from Werk Co., when work-from-home policies were implemented, the employee attrition rate decreased by 50% and performance increased by 13%. Additionally, remote work allows employers to save on the cost of office space expenses and hire high performers from virtually anywhere, greatly expanding their talent pool.
For those organizations considering implementing a remote work policy that supports both working parents and company growth, below are a few leading practices gleaned from the nationwide Best Place for Working Parents® business leader community:
1. Gauge employee sentiment with surveys.
Before implementing a remote work policy, it’s beneficial to check in with your staff to determine if remote work is a top priority for your team. While the data shows that remote work is beneficial for most employees, not every employee will feel the same way. Gauging employee sentiment on remote work can be done through anonymous surveys, one-on-one meetings, or polling by employees.
While gauging employee sentiment on remote work, it’s also helpful to ask employees about any challenges or benefits they expect from remote work and what support they might need to be successful. For example, polling may tell you that 75% of parents on your staff want to work remotely all the time but 25% need an in-person option. With this insight, business leaders can drive decisions on potential office space, as well as go-forward management and communication strategies.
2. Check in with managers.
Another important aspect of implementing a remote work policy is to check in with managers and company leaders. Managers must be set up for success in leading their teams, so understanding each manager’s unique team dynamics and communication cadences will help set expectations within a new remote work environment. It’s a best practice to have regularly scheduled check-ins with supervisors, particularly in the early phase of shifting to a remote work schedule, to ensure everything is going smoothly and course-correct quickly as potential issues arise.
3. Equip employees with remote-first resources.
A critical consideration when transitioning to a fully remote workplace is making sure your team has everything they need to be successful, just as you would in an office setting. Whether it’s high-speed Internet, a printer, or office furniture, business leaders should ensure employees’ home offices are equipped with remote-first resources that will make the transition easier for everyone.
Another important consideration is providing in-person office options for employees who may prefer them. This doesn’t have to be a dedicated space for each employee, but it can look like a flexible office space that employees can access and reserve as needed.
4. Create opportunities for community and connection.
One aspect of the in-person office setting some may miss is the community and collaboration that come with it. While many still prefer a remote work setting, they may also be looking for opportunities to collaborate with and get to know their team better.
As an employer, it’s important to create those opportunities and further drive employee satisfaction. A few ideas on how employers can do that are to host regular team-bonding events either in person or virtually, host monthly in-person meetings, plan a company retreat, schedule guest speakers, create virtual employee resource groups (many companies create one specifically for parents), or set up a virtual coffee program for employees to get to know each other.
If you’re a company looking to grow and improve performance, remote work is one of the top 10 research-backed policies that has been proven to boost trust, retention, and productivity among employees, particularly working parents. If your organization hasn’t considered remote work as a potential benefit or it’s not a fit for your particular business model, today is still an opportune time to explore the suite of research-backed family-friendly policies that are helping businesses of every size and industry sharpen their competitive advantage in a red-hot labor market and deepen their engagement with a growing majority of today’s workforce: parents.
Sadie Funk and Sara Redington of The Best Place for Working Parents®. The Best Place for Working Parents is a collaborative and growing network of businesses across the United States dedicated to providing support for working parents through evidence-based strategies, proving that family-friendly is business-friendly. A public-private partnership, The Best Place for Working Parents offers a competitive designation that recognizes innovation across the top 10 research-backed family-friendly policies that help working parent employees and boost employers’ bottom line. Businesses can qualify to receive a Best Place for Working Parents business designation by taking the first-of-its-kind business online self-assessment. Learn more about The Best Place for Working Parents at https://bestplace4workingparents.com.