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What Your Working Parents Want and Need

In today's fast-paced world of work, parents face unique challenges. Balancing a career with family responsibilities can be overwhelming, and it's crucial for employers to understand what their employees truly need to thrive both at work and at home. 

Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible working arrangements are not only beneficial for parents, but they are likely to be one of their most significant needs. Arrangements, such as remote working, flexible hours, and part-time options, can greatly alleviate the stress of juggling work and family duties. According to a 2021 study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 54% of UK employees reported that flexible working positively impacted their work-life balance. Employers who offer flexibility can expect higher levels of job satisfaction and retention among their staff.

Affordable and Accessible Childcare

Quality childcare is a critical concern for working parents. In the UK, the high cost of childcare is a significant burden. A report by Coram Family and Childcare in 2023 found that the average annual cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two was £7,212.

This financial strain can be alleviated if employers provide childcare vouchers, on-site childcare facilities, or subsidies. Access to affordable childcare enables parents to focus better on their work, knowing their children are in safe hands, it can even be the difference between being able to work and not. 

Supportive Workplace Policies

These are essential for the well-being of working parents. Policies such as enhanced parental leave, family leave, and compassionate leave for when children are sick can make a significant difference. The UK's Shared Parental Leave policy allows parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay. However, uptake has been low, with only 5% of eligible couples using the scheme. Despite its benefits, including increased flexibility and better work-life balance, various factors such as financial constraints, cultural attitudes, and a lack of awareness or support from employers contribute to the low uptake. Employers can encourage higher participation by promoting these policies and making them more accessible.

Professional Development Opportunities

Continuous professional development is crucial for working parents who wish to advance their careers. Employers can support this by providing access to training, mentorship programs, and leadership development opportunities. A 2021 report by the Learning and Work Institute revealed that 61% of UK employees felt that career development opportunities were important for their job satisfaction. By investing in the professional growth of working parents, employers can foster a more skilled and motivated workforce.

External Specialist Coaching

Access to an external specialist coach provides personalised support and guidance for working parents, helping them navigate the complexities or work and family life.  The pressure of balancing these two areas can lead to stress, anxiety and burnout. Working with a coach can help employees to manage their mental well-being effectively. 

External specialist coaching offers several benefits for working parents:

  • Research conducted by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) in 2020 found that 84% of UK organisations offering coaching reported improvements in employee performance and productivity.

  • Coaching, rather than training,  provides time to consider specific challenges faced by individuals, such as time management and career planning.

  • It can help parents identify and pursue career advancement opportunities while balancing their family responsibilities. This is especially crucial for parents returning to work after a period of leave.

  • Coaches can share tools and techniques for managing stress and maintaining mental well-being. 

  • Working with a coach can help working parents create realistic plans to prioritise tasks and set boundaries. 

A 2021 study by the Henley Business School highlighted that organizations providing coaching experienced a 70% increase in employee engagement and a 60% improvement in job satisfaction. These findings underscore the importance of external coaching as a support mechanism for working parents.

Working parents in the UK face numerous challenges, but with the right support, they can thrive both at work and at home. Flexible work arrangements, affordable childcare, supportive workplace policies, professional development opportunities, and external coaching are all essential components of a comprehensive support system.

Employers who prioritise these needs will not only enhance the well-being of their employees but also benefit from a more engaged, productive, and loyal workforce. As we move forward, let's ensure that working parents receive the support they need to succeed in all aspects of their lives. By doing so, we create a more balanced, inclusive, and prosperous society for everyone.

Please get in touch with us if you’d like to find out more about the coaching solutions, we offer which includes one-to-one, group coaching and line manager training.

My colleague Sarah Turner and I have been busy creating content highlighting the importance of organisations providing support for working parents. As part of this, we created this video series exploring the entire journey of maternity leave, from before the leave starts, through to preparing to return and then the first few months back at work. If you or your organisation would like to understand more about how to support your employees as they take parental leave, please get in touch.  

This blog post is a collaboration between Maternity Coaches Laura Duggal and Sarah Turner. They are working together, sharing their experiences and bringing the best of their joint advice and knowledge to you.

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