How to Establish an Inclusive, Parent-Friendly Culture within the Workplace

mother-2085053_1920It’s 2017, and earning the label of “progressive” or “inclusive” is not an easy feat for most companies. While an above-average maternity leave policy may have been your differentiating factor in the last decade, it may not be attracting the top talent it once was. Many modern working parents expect to nurture both a full-time career and their families simultaneously, and they expect their workplace to support them in that endeavor.

Today, employers are still falling short when it comes to supporting their parent employees. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Cognoa, a digital health company providing science-backed tools to help parents assess and improve their child’s development, 44% of respondents believe their current or past employers lack supportive, parent-friendly benefits. Lack of support from employers not only stunts productivity, but it may even force a parent to make the decision to leave the workplace. Offering these benefits allows recruiters to attract top talent, especially millennial parents looking for a culture of inclusion.

While this label may be beneficial, it’s not necessarily easy to achieve. If you’re looking to establish firmer family-friendly policies or explore additional ways to support your parent employees, follow these steps to get the process started.

Survey Your Population

Engagement is one of the greatest concerns for benefits directors. Knowing the best programs for your employee population can be challenging, and getting them to use it is even harder. While subsidized childcare and egg-freezing work for Google and Facebook, it may not be the best solution for your company. The most effective method for determining how to proceed is to first see what your employees want and what they will find beneficial.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Internal Staff and Temporary Worker Satisfaction Surveys

In order to get a pulse on how employees are feeling, send around an initial survey with questions about your employees’ desires and how satisfied they are with current benefits. If your survey finds employees are missing work frequently for their kids, feeling stretched too thin financially, or they’re having trouble balancing their family responsibilities with work life, it may be time to start exploring new benefits options. For example, there are programs like DoubleNetPay for financial wellness, Kurbo for children’s weight loss, and Cognoa for assessing developmental delays and tracking milestones in children.

Establish a Communication Plan

Engaging with your employees is vital when it comes to enacting new benefits, and it’s the best way to make sure they know what’s available to them. When determining which companies to bring in, discuss how involved they will be in terms of implementation and communication. For instance, if you are introducing a new technology, will your staff regularly receive suggestions, notifications, and recommendations to keep them updated as they become acclimated? It’s also a good idea to establish an employee assistance program, or EAP. If an EAP advisor is not available, make sure your employees know who at your company is able to discuss benefits.

Start Small and Ask for Feedback

If you are just starting to explore parent-friendly benefits at your company, starting with small changes is completely reasonable. Maybe your employees are looking for more flexible hours or work-from-home options, rather than a full benefits overhaul. Also, make sure you’re striking an even balance with both your parent employees and those without children, creating a culture that feels fair for your entire population. Distribute quarterly surveys to keep a pulse on employee satisfaction levels, and know that erasing the stigma around family challenges will help your company prosper more in the long run.

MORE: How to Recognize and Avoid Burnout in Your Staff

Michele Bell
Michele Bell serves as VP of Partnerships at Cognoa, which gives employers and health plans child development benefits to serve every parent. She can be reached at michele.bell (at) cognoa (dot) com.

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