A growing number of single parents make up today’s workforce. Besides the challenges of having adequate childcare, these employees are concerned with needs that impact their work time, including sick leave, unexpected school closures, and other emergencies. These pressures can distract them, affecting both productivity and work quality.
To address this issue, HR professionals should take measures to support these employees. Doing so will improve retention while boosting the reputation of your company.
Growing Numbers of Single Parents in The Workforce
According to a 2019 survey by Pew Research, 23 percent of children under age 18 are raised by a single parent. You likely have one or even several single parents in your firm.
HR professionals need to keep in mind that offering help to single parents does not just benefit the employees. It’s also a critical component of employee retention. In a 2020 survey of 1,500 working parents, 40 percent said they were considering resigning in order to better care for their children.
Providing adequate support for the needs of single parents is a must to ensure that your company remains competitive. Here are some options to consider.
Child Care Options
One option that some HR departments can consider is supporting the number one need of these workers—child care services. While some companies can provide child care on-premises, that is not a reality for most companies.
However, it may be possible to partner with a nearby child care facility and provide a discount if you have enough employees with this need. Another option is to subsidize some or all of your employees’ child care costs. However, this may impact the salaries you can offer.
Provide a Variety of Plans
Rather than paying for child care, consider offering your employees a flexible spending account. This allows employees to put aside funds before taxes to save money. Funds can be put towards child care or other needs they may have for their families.
Working parents also need to provide their families with quality health care. Be sure to offer a variety of options for families to help them choose a health plan that fits their needs and budget. HMOs, PPOs, and POSs are the most popular options depending on your budget.
Offer Flexible Work Options
A popular post-pandemic work trend today is continuing to offer remote work. While many employees are heading back to the office, others are opting to remain home. Remote workers may be more productive than those in the office. And that can eliminate the high cost of child care.
Flexible work options do not have to be fully remote. You can offer employees a variety of options:
- Flexible start times
- One day out of the office
- Half days
- Fully remote except for meetings and on-site required days
- Job sharing
You must develop policies for remote work days or times. For example, set standard policies for video conferencing attendance, such as no outside noise, proper dress code, and professional-looking backgrounds.
Training in Budgeting and Finances
Another way to support employees who are single parents is to offer training in budgeting and finances. These workshops can benefit your entire staff since COVID-19 had a tremendous financial impact on many people.
Helping your team to become financially literate reduces their stress while improving their loyalty to the company. Additionally, financial wellness programs are attractive perks that improve the value of your company.
Some of the topics you can cover include:
- Budgeting 101
- Homebuying tips
- Boosting your credit score
- Training on retirement benefits that match what you offer them
It’s important that your department lays out the details of any plans and options you choose to offer, both in the employee handbook and to attract new talent. Discuss these with the legal department and IT to avoid any concerns that may come up, such as data security.
Preventing Employee Burnout
Employee burnout is a real issue, particularly for single parents who work full time. Fully remote staffers can suffer fatigue from too many Zoom calls or working from home. Some parents prefer to go into the office so they can better appreciate their families.
How can you help your remote employees to avoid these issues? First of all, avoid scheduling wall-to-wall zoom meetings. Limit the number you have per day, making sure to invite only those who need to be there for meetings of lesser importance.
Support your employees by checking in with them from time to time. Use emails, surveys, and even phone calls. You can also create remote co-working sessions so employees at home don’t feel isolated the whole day.
Finally, edify your remote employees. Create online team-building activities, offer virtual mentorship programs, and consider providing professional development options that can be accessed online.
Addressing the needs of working parents is the responsibility of every HR professional. Offer the right mix of options to help them to thrive in the workplace. This will help your company stand out as a superior employment choice for single-parent professionals.