Parenting is a full-time job, and for many new parents, returning to work can feel daunting. Leaving their child in someone else's care might be difficult, as might focusing on their job when they're constantly worrying about their little one.
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Fortunately, many companies are beginning to recognize the importance of helping parents transition back to work. Efforts to address the challenges include offering parental leave, flexible schedules, adjusted hours, childcare services, and mental health services. If your company is looking for ways to support new parents, read on for some helpful tips.
Parental Leave 101
Parental leave is one of the most important ways companies can support new parents. Parental leave allows parents time to bond with their new child, recover from childbirth, and adjust to their new role as a parent. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with job-protected, unpaid leave for qualifying medical and family reasons, including those related to the birth of a child.
Many countries also have laws mandating paid parental leave, but the United States is, unfortunately, not one of them. However, some States and an increasing number of U.S. companies are beginning to offer paid parental leave, which can go a long way in supporting new parents.
Ways to Help Parents Transition Back to Work
There are many ways companies can help parents successfully transition back to work. Here are a few ideas to implement at your company.
Help to Plan Every Stage
Returning to work after having a child can be very challenging, but so can the time leading up to it. Those involved may feel stressed about the paperwork, the inevitable changes, and how everyone involved will adjust. Having a plan in place can help ease some of this stress.
Dedicate an employee or a team to help parents plan for their return to work. This planning could include creating a schedule that works for both the parent and the child, finding childcare, and understanding the company's leave policies. Creating an empathetic and family-friendly culture can help encourage more employee engagement, as well as a higher retention rate due to employees feeling supported.
Flexible schedules are an easy way companies can support new parents. Many parents need to be able to adjust their work hours to accommodate childcare or doctor's appointments. Flexible schedules allow parents to take care of their responsibilities at home without sacrificing their job.
With the rise of remote and hybrid work, flexible schedules are more accessible than ever. If your company allows for remote work, be sure to highlight this option to new parents. If your company doesn’t yet accommodate remote work, consider implementing a flex-time policy where employees can choose their own hours within specific parameters.
Similarly, adjusted hours can be a great way to help new parents transition back to work. Adjusted hours allow parents to start and end their workday earlier or later, depending on their needs. This can be especially helpful for parents who have young children at home.
Transitioning from being home full-time to returning to work can be difficult. Allowing your employees to ease back into work with this newfound routine can be made much easier by adjusting their work hours.
Babysitting services are another great way to be supportive of new parents. Many companies offer on-site childcare services, which can be a huge help for parents trying to balance work and family.
If your company doesn't offer on-site childcare, consider partnering with a local service. This can be a great way to support local small businesses while helping parents with the transition back to work.
Mental Health Services
Mental health services are an important way companies can provide support to employees, including parents. The transition to parenthood can be overwhelming, and many new parents experience anxiety and depression. By making mental health services available to your employees, new parents will have access to services and support that might make it easier to cope with the stresses of parenthood and adjust to their new role.
Parenting coaching is another offering companies can utilize to help new parents feel supported and connected. This type of support can make the transition back to work much more manageable.
Companies like KPMG provide individualized coaching for parents who are about to take their leave, or have just returned from parental leave. This is a helpful service for new parents, who often feel isolated and alone during the transition back to work. Connecting them to others with similar experiences and helping them better prepare ahead of time can make all the difference when it’s time for their return.
Consider an EAP Program
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a great way to support employees during the transition back to work. EAPs offer confidential counseling and support for employees, and they can be an excellent resource for new parents.
If your company doesn't yet offer an EAP, consider developing your own resources or partnering with a local provider to give employees access to similar types of support. These can include anything from mental health resources to childcare resources. Creating this sort of support network of resources for new parents can help them transition back to work successfully.
Create a Safe Space
Upon the return to work, new parents may realize their workplace needs have changed since welcoming their child. Many states require lactation rooms for new mothers, but even if not required, companies can create a safe space for new parents to pump or breastfeed. This can be a private room with a comfortable chair and a place to store milk. You can also take the next step and provide resources like pumping equipment and breast milk storage bags.
Make the Transition Easier for Everyone
The transition back to work after having a child can be difficult, but there are a number of ways companies can help make it less challenging. From flexible schedules to adjusted hours, there are many methods of supporting working parents. By accommodating their needs, companies can help new parents transition back to work and ease the stress of parenthood.
Want more guidance to help your company maximize its workforce? Check out more from our blog that's full of helpful resources for many of work-life's biggest hurdles.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.