The chancellor’s so-called ‘back to work’ budget in March 2023 was largely focused on encouraging more people into the workplace to boost the UK economy. One group the government highlighted was parents, and by providing 30 hours of free childcare for every child over the age of nine months by September 2025, they hope to help more parents return to work.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), as of 2021, there were around 13 million working parents in the UK. This policy could see 60,000 more people entering the workforce. It's vital that businesses offer family-friendly policies to make their organisation attractive to parents looking to return to work, and also for their existing workforce.
Parents possess many skills that are highly valuable to businesses, such as excellent time management, organisational and problem-solving skills, as well as experience working under pressure and managing competing priorities. Their presence helps to create a diverse and inclusive workplace which can improve employee morale and engagement.
In this competitive labour market, implementing family-friendly policies can increase your talent pool and boost your employee value proposition. Here are some top tips to making your business more attractive to working parents:
Provide flexible working
Flexible working is key for parents who often have busy schedules and need to work around school times and childcare hours. If there are no set restrictions on what times they need to be working, allow employees to set their own schedules. In addition, allowing employees to work from home can help parents establish a better work-life balance.
Introduce on-site childcare facilities
While on-site childcare facilities may not be suitable for smaller companies, employers with large offices, where staff are required to be in the office five days a week, should consider this provision. This can ensure parents have childcare for the hours needed for their role and allows them to spend time with their children during breaks, which is particularly useful for mothers who are breastfeeding and need to be close by.
Offer generous parental leave
When employees know their employer values their role as a parent and supports their need for family time, they are more likely to remain loyal to the company. Additionally, having time to bond with their child and adjust to their new family dynamic means they will likely be better mentally and emotionally prepared to return to work and be productive in their role.
Consider job sharing
This concept may be unfamiliar to many businesses but is becoming more popular. Job sharing can give two employees the work-life balance they need to prevent them from leaving altogether, and helps your business attract new professionals seeking part-time employment. While it’s not just parents who may seek part-time work, being flexible and understanding that work-life balance is important for families, will make your business more attractive to working parents.
Cultivate a family-friendly culture
Many parents often get left out of after-work activities due to childcare responsibilities. Holding regular events, where employees are encouraged to bring their families, will cultivate a supportive and welcoming company culture that will foster loyalty.
Check your biases
Historically, there has been a misconception that parents, particularly mothers, are less dedicated to their jobs and this bias is still plaguing the workplace today. As such, mothers often get overlooked for promotions or pay rises. Make sure these biases are not influencing business decisions in your company and provide managers with the right training and development so they do not make discriminatory decisions.
Extend health insurance to families
Private health insurance is a highly sought-after company benefit – but to parents, the health of their children takes priority. Ideally, employees should have the ability to include their children on their insurance policy.
Ask your employees!
The best way to ensure you are offering benefits that are meaningful to your employees, is to ask them. Conduct regular surveys to establish the benefits and policies most important to them and above all, listen to their suggestions and implement changes where possible.
If you are looking for the next talented professional to join your team, or seeking a new opportunity yourself, get in contact with your local recruitment specialist today.