Find out what benefits, policies and support your organisation should offer to attract talented working mums and dads.
In the UK, 9 in 10 households with dependent children have working parents (ONS). For organisations it’s therefore important to have parent-friendly policies and benefits in place to retain existing employees and attract new talent. While women are still 8 times more likely than men to be the primary carer for children (BITC Equal Lives), slowly fathers are taking on more caring responsibilities and we have witnessed a rise in UK working mothers to 4.9 million (Independent).
So what can organisations do to be truly working-parent friendly? Bramwith Consulting and Business in the Community are working in partnership to address this question. Here are our five top tips on how to recruit working parents to your organisation.
1) Offer family-friendly benefits
Parent-friendly benefits don’t always have to be about additional costs: inclusive organisations create parent-friendly work cultures. This could include offering emergency care leave when needed, support through parent networks, flexible work schedules, part-time employment options, job share opportunities, and flexible career paths.
Have you considered subsidising childcare expenses, an on-site nursery or parental coaching? Many leading organisations are now also offering enhanced shared parental leave, and some even provide financial support for IVF.
Most importantly, test what benefits and policies matter most to your existing employees and the diverse talent you want to attract. Across the UK, Business in the Community’s leading-edge research Equal Lives, in partnership with Santander UK, found that the most important benefit for employees with caring responsibilities is flexible working.
2) Rethink your flexible working policies
Working parents expect employers to offer flexible working hours and improved technology to help them work when and from where it suits them.
While 86% of working parents want to work flexibly, just under half (49%) of parents do (Working Families, 2019). The main barriers include incompatible type of job, unavailability of flexible working (although all employees have the Right to Request flexible working), and ‘line managers don’t like it’ (Working Families, 2019).
“It is essential for employers to offer flexible working for all staff; not just on a piece of paper but ensuring that a real plan is put in place, so it is practical to implement on a day-to-day basis.”
Ben Riley, Director at Bramwith Consulting
As the war for talent intensifies, offering realistic flexible working opportunities and helping parents back into work is an effective way to reach new talent. For example, inclusive employers like Barclays have used flexible working as a key element of their brand attraction. They offer a range of Dynamic Working options and Barclays was named a Top 10 UK employer for flexible working by Working Families and saw employee engagement scores increase by 5%.
3) Role model your working parents
You can’t be what you can’t see. Ensure that you promote success stories of diverse working parents internally and externally. Remember to include a cross section of different working parents: from single parent to patch-work family, junior and senior roles, and across diversity spectrums such as age, ability, race and sexual identity. Most of all: try to role model senior people in your organisation.
Top tip: involve these role models in the hiring process, referring to them when writing your vacancy advertisements and screening procedures, and perhaps even ask them to sit on interview panels. Those role models bring to life the opportunities your organisation offers.
For example, Aviva is widely promoting its most senior job share (HR Magazine). Will and Sam have a shared role as Group Director of Sustainability & Public Policy, managing around 20 people and multiple budget lines, reporting directly to the Global Executive Committee. They have decided to each work three days a week so they can spend quality time with their young children, while maintaining their career.
4) Upskill your line managers
Offering policies and benefits only takes you so far; employees also need to feel empowered to take advantage of them. That is where a change in work culture is needed, in particular around how management teams are role modelling inclusive behaviours.
Equal Lives found that 90% of line managers feel confident in responding to the needs of employees with caring responsibilities; yet employees report line managers lacking both awareness of what is possible, and the understanding to implement and tailor policies appropriately.
Support your line managers to empower their teams to take advantage of existing policies and create open cultures where employees feel free to share their caring responsibilities outside of work. Your line managers are also often hiring managers, so their upskilled knowledge of your family-friendly benefits and policies will come in handy during the recruitment process.
5) Be transparent
Think about how easily available your policies and benefits are – internally and externally. How transparent is your process when employees want to take up certain benefits, and how do you position them in interviews and on your careers page? Are you allowing potential candidates to ask about your benefits during the recruitment process?
Be transparent and publish your parental and carer policy on your website. Plus, upgrade your candidate recruitment packs to include information dedicated to returning or working parents: share case studies about existing working parents, list your parent-friendly benefits, and reiterate your organisation’s commitment to working parents.
Consider running focus groups or parent forums to listen to what your existing talent wants and needs to better manage the dreaded work-life balance, and embed their insights where you can. Your existing talent is a key attraction element, as shown by this LinkedIn post from a KPMG employee that got 4,800 likes describing how it used a KPMG family-friendly benefit to make her life work for her – what a great tool for brand attraction.
Whatever action you take to attract working mums and dads to your organisation, remember that ultimately, flexible and inclusive work cultures benefit all employees.
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