As the world is changing at a rapid pace, we can’t ignore the fact that we are entering into an epidemic of burnout, anxiety, and stress.  When it comes to employees, supporting and investing in their wellness Is no longer just a nice add-on bonus, it’s vital for the success of businesses and long-term growth. 

Hardest hit are the parents in the workplace who, over the last year and a half, have added the role of teacher, lunch monitor, and playground attendant to their already busy schedules.

I have seen the overwhelm in the parents I work with who are struggling to keep it all together. Many tell me their bosses started out with compassion and understanding but it’s waning, and there is less tolerance. 

Employees who are struggling at home will ultimately struggle in their work and the cracks are showing.  In the Forbes article The Great Resignation, they found that employees want to instill boundaries for themselves so they can focus on what’s important to them and that includes their physical and mental health. If companies refuse to acknowledge this, and make changes, employees are ready to look elsewhere for work.

In the competitive professional landscape, employees are looking for companies that serve and acknowledge them as a whole person, including their family.  This means supporting these employees beyond maternity leave with ongoing resources, programs, and benefits to help them have a thriving home life. 

The workplace as we knew it before Covid, will never be the same and employers need to start creating work environments where employees feel comfortable and honest about their family obligations.  Flexibility is a key element in supporting families.  Flexibility to pick their kids up from school, work from home full or part-time, and attend appointments without repercussion.

In this tight talent market, forty three percent of women in professional roles end up leaving their careers when family life becomes increasingly complex according to The Mom Project’s 2020 report.  In that same report, they found that a whopping eighty three percent of women say they would be willing to leave a job for a role that better supports their desired workplace criteria. Simply put, when there is stress and incivility at home, it leads to burnout, mental and physical stress, and emotional exhaustion. 

In the Today Online article on how family incivility affects work performance, parents with stressful home lives were thirty percent more likely to receive below-average performance evaluations in their jobs than those who didn’t have these stressors.  Employees with family stressors were thirty five percent more likely to report psychological distress symptoms such as depression and anxiety.  It can’t be ignored that there is an huge opportunity to support employees with families, because reducing home stress, is good for them, and happy employees are

Companies can look to these solutions to help parents in their organizations: 

  • Offer flexibility to allow parents to work from home full or part-time and attend meetings and appointments for their children.
  • Include parenting support in employee benefits. Many parents prefer private parenting support, but the cost may be prohibitive.  Allow employees to use their extended benefits to cover it and/or their Flexible Medical Spending Account.
  • Invite parenting experts in to support parents. Host workshops and offer courses for parents for ongoing education so they have the tools and resources to manage the stress and incivility at home.
  • Offer post-partum support.  Once the baby is born, and beyond, is when parenting gets “real” for parents and offering support like childcare, breastmilk shipping, telemedicine, and other types of holistic support for employees will create greater job satisfaction.
  • Educate executives. Employees don’t quit companies, they quit bosses.  Ensure management and executives support efforts to create a better work-life balance and demonstrate a genuine understanding and respect for the need for support.
  • Don’t hold women with children back in their careers.  Working mothers offer unique talents that make the workplace better for everyone.  They offer “soft skills” that make them great leaders. 
  • Family Inclusive environment.  Encourage employees to share about their families.  Have opportunities to have “family fun days” or outings where kids are welcome.  This helps build connection between employees and fosters pride and dedication to the company they work for.

Taking care of employees at work and beyond, especially those with kids, isn’t just good for company culture, it’s good for retention, productivity, and that means it’s good for the bottom line.  Happier parents mean happier kids, and that’s good for the community, the world, and our future.