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How to better support working parents

It takes a village (and an understanding employer) to raise children. While this was glaringly obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic (Side note: Did you ever attend a Zoom meeting and hear a screaming toddler in the background?), it’s something that rings true even as the pandemic gradually ebbs away. In this Pacific Prime UK article, we’ll give you 3 ways to support working parents, and thereby recruit and retain stellar candidates.

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The life of a working parent 

Before we can explore ways to support working parents, it’s first important to understand the struggles of life as a working parent. Whether it’s taking your little one to the hospital, attending a parent-teacher meeting, entertaining them during the summer holidays and more, parental duties don’t always align with the standard 9 to 5 workday. Add in the fact that many parents don’t have a support system and suffer from separation anxiety, and you can see how things can quickly get unmanageable.  

Burnout and resignation

Due to the fear of being misunderstood, judged or deemed unprofessional in the workplace, many working parents don’t openly talk to their managers about how they’re feeling or their personal situation. Over time, something as easily solvable as daycare closure or exhaustion (Hint: Flexible working solutions) can build up and lead to burnout or even resignation. This is especially true for the non-breadwinner of the family (typically, but not always, women).

Further reading: How to support female employees during the pandemic

A supportive manager can make a big the difference 

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to rectify the situation and support working parents. All it takes is a supportive manager to listen to the needs of working parents, and be flexible and adaptive in finding a solution that works for all parties. But, of course, this is easier said than done as working parents might not always be vocal. Here are some tried-and-tested tips to get that conversation started:

1. Ask open-ended questions 

To get working parents to open up about their struggles, you should aim to ask open-ended questions. Instead of saying, “Is everything okay?”, which may simply prompt them to say “Yes”, try asking a question like, “How are you finding life as a new parent? Is there any important context you’d like me to have about your life outside of work?”. By asking questions like these, you’re signalling that the line of communication is open and you’re ready to support working parents.

Know what employees are asking for

When working parents come to you, they may say things like “I’m exhausted”. This may seem like simply venting or being overly emotional, so you should aim to steer the conversation more towards solutions. Ask them what they need from you. Is it a short vacation to rejuvenate? Or longer-term changes like flexible start and end times? 

2. Praise how employees work

Many working parents may be feeling a low sense of self. As such, make sure you give praise where it’s warranted – not just for the outcome, but also about how employees work and what you appreciate about them. It’s the difference between saying to your account “Good job on the budget numbers” and “Thanks for working incredibly hard on the budget numbers – I really appreciate your attention to detail”. By praising working parents, you’re enabling them to experience themselves as consummate professionals.

3. Keep the momentum going 

With a child to look after (especially during the pandemic), many working parents may be demotivated at work. To keep the momentum going, remind them of the progress the team and company have made, and their specific contributions to that. Give them an update on how the company and specific departments are doing, and tell them directly how impressed you are with the impact they’ve made in such a short time. By giving working parents a sense of moving forward, the more they’ll be able to keep going. 

Pacific Prime UK can help you offer family-friendly employee benefits 

If your company doesn’t already offer family-friendly employee benefits, consider doing so as it’s one of the best ways you can support working parents. From onsite lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers and generous parental leave to childcare benefits and more, there are a number of family-friendly benefits you can offer. Not sure where to begin? Pacific Prime UK is at your service.

As a global health insurance and employee benefits brokerage, Pacific Prime UK has got over two decades of experience working together with companies of all sizes and industries across the UK and internationally. Using a tailored, technology-driven approach, we can help you design and implement employee benefits solutions that keep your organisational needs and goals at the forefront. 

To learn more about what we can do for you, please arrange a free consultation with our corporate team!

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Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime UK
Suphanida is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, an award-winning global health insurance and employee benefits specialist.

With over 5 years of experience in the field, Suphanida spends the majority of her day synthesizing complex pieces of insurance-related information and translating this into easy-to-understand, engaging, and effective content across a variety of media such as articles, infographics, whitepapers, videos, and more.

Suphanida is also responsible for planning and publishing three whitepapers released annually by Pacific Prime: The State of Health Insurance Report, The Cost of Health Insurance Report, and The Global Employee Benefits Trends Report. Additionally, she handles the LinkedIn profiles of Pacific Prime’s Founder and CEO, as well as Global HR Lead.

Suphanida’s strengths lie in her strong research and analytical skills, which she has gained from her BA in Politics from the University of Warwick and Erasmus Mundus Joint MA in Journalism from Aarhus University and City, University of London.

Being of Thai-Indian origin and having lived, studied, and worked in Thailand, the UK, and Denmark, Suphanida also has a unique, multicultural perspective that helps her understand the struggles of expats and globetrotters.

Outside of work, she enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.
Suphanida Thakral