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Why You Must Support Parents Returning to Work

New parents make for loyal and dedicated employees, when you treat them right.

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New parents make for loyal and dedicated employees, when you treat them right.

Opinions

Why You Must Support Parents Returning to Work

New parents make for loyal and dedicated employees, when you treat them right.

Share this article

Supporting parents returning to work - and being flexible for those who only want to return part time - is an important part of any employee policy.

When supported in the right way, parents can become the most loyal employees who, in my experience, come back to work after starting a family with a new drive, better time management and more focus.

Despite the overriding benefits, it appears that UK businesses are still falling short when it comes to supporting parents. In fact, according to a survey by Workingmums, a quarter of mothers work full time with no flexibility.

Over half fear that their flexible working will be taken away, while 15% of those currently on maternity leave have been turned down for flexible working. Nearly half feel that they have been held them back in their career by having children.

Supporting parents in the workplace needs to be prioritised among UK business owners if we’re to build a much happier, more fulfilled workforce.

As a family business, Origin works hard to create a culture of inclusivity, family, kindness and trust. It’s at the heart of everything we do and has enabled us to grow into the thriving business we are today.

Encourage a Cultural Shift

Create an internal company culture that celebrates the successes, milestones and achievements of employees, in both their professional and personal lives. Make sure the process is enjoyable from the moment they disclose that they, or their partner, is expecting.

Celebrate the announcement, offer regular reassurance and keep lines of communication open. At Origin, we also do a work assessment to make sure pregnant employees aren’t overstretched.

Both starting and growing a family increases emotional, mental and financial pressure, so supporting during this time will only serve to strengthen employee loyalty.

Be Open About the Future

Fear of the unknown can cause a significant amount of stress for those taking time off, particularly for mothers on maternity leave. By being clear on what returning to work looks like for them, you’ll automatically reduce anxiety levels and ensure they can hit the ground running when they do decide to return to work.

Keep in Touch

As any parent will know, going from a busy work environment to staying at home with children can be lonely. Time away from the office can lead to a dip in confidence and feeling out of touch for some.

Make sure employees still feel part of the team by offering them the opportunity to return for occasional keep in touch days. If they’re happy for you to do so, drop them a line from time to time to have a friendly and informal catch up without any pressing questions about when they’re coming back to work.

Be a Family Friendly Employer

By adopting a family friendly approach, businesses will attract and retain their very best talent. Over 62% of women have considered setting up on their own after having a baby, purely due to the fact they want more flexibility.

Offer flexible working hours, be willing for parents to take holiday days at short notice to deal with sick children and be open to parents working from home when they need to. These are all perks that will attract candidates to choose you over the competition when hiring, and that employees will appreciate.

Mind the Gap

Men in full time employment are still paid, on average, 9% more than women, according to the Office of National Statistics. While the gap edges closer to zero among the younger generations, there is a substantial shift among the over 40’s.

This is because many women have left work, either full time or part time, to start a family. The gender divide starts to creep open when women come back to work.

Women are less likely to negotiate their pay, so be transparent about the salary ranges on offer and actively encourage all employees to negotiate their wage based on skill, experience and performance.

Be open about processes, policies and criteria for hiring and promotion. Decisions are then always based on objectives and evidence, rather than gender bias. This will ensure the salaries of women more closely match those of men.

Final Thoughts

Employers have a lot to gain by offering a greater level of support to parents. By shifting company culture to be more understanding and flexible towards the needs of parents, UK businesses can expect to build a more loyal workforce and attract and retain the very best talent

Victoria Brocklesby is Co-Founder and COO of Origin.

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Why You Must Support Parents Returning to Work

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