Many parents find juggling work and family life whether working full or part time can be challenging to say the least! Does it get easier?
Which then leads us to the question, is it possible to thrive as a working parent?
How can you as an employer support and enhance this experience for employees whilst building inclusion?
We believe that having support, guidance and motivation at this time can make a huge difference to individuals which then has a positive impact on their health and wellbeing, enabling individuals to be happier and motivated, bringing their ‘whole selves’ to work and feeling included.
It may be that your organisation already has a network or forum supporting working parents or it may be that you are looking to get one established.
Having a dedicated network is a great way for parents to meet other like-minded parents and share their hopes and challenges as well as accessing useful resources. As an employer it helps you to support working parents with children to obtain a good work life balance. As experts in the space of working parents we are sharing our top tips to help you kick start and or transform your working parents’ network.
1. Making the network work for you
A good starting point is to start planning how and where you want your network to be set up and run. Depending on where your employees are geographically based you may want to consider how you are going to engage and run the sessions, it may that a virtual forum will work well, you may chose the intranet or a dedicated app or an online platform to communicate with staff. Equally delivery of a parent’s network can be done online or face to face. Work with colleagues to decide what will work best for your organisation.
Once you have decided how you will run the network you can move on to recruit a dedicated lead to manage the network internally. If you decided the network lead is a parent who is volunteering their time, it’s important to make sure they have enough time to support and manage regular meetings and don’t feel pressurised or stressed with extra workload. The last thing you want to do is set up someone is who is enthusiastic and then doesn’t have enough time and is left feeling overwhelmed and demotivated. It may be an option to use several people and or rotate the responsibilities. Working with an external supplier can help with the delivery of the service, providing a broad depth and experience in an impartial way.
2. Covering the important stuff
Mapping and planning out content topics a year in advance for the network is an ideal timeframe to work with. There will be many common themes that most working parents will relate to, such as managing their time effectively, flexible working, career development etc. However, there may be topics that haven’t been thought about so do ‘ask the audience’ and ask for suggestions. Covering key topics will help parents feel they are being understood and listened to. Once you have content this can be used circulated in advance allowing individuals to think through what particular challenge or ideas they have to share with others. Dates can be scheduled in and a professional network can soon be ready to be shared for employees demonstrating how inclusive you are.
3. Facilitators who are relatable
It’s important to make sure the person who is facilitating the session is a relatable and understands the various topics in advance. Attendees will want to see another parent ‘who gets it’ lead and facilitate the group. It’s ideal to have the same person facilitating the sessions for continuity.
3. Picking the right time
Most working parents are busy and its key for the organisers to pick the right time of day and length of the session. A lunch n learn is often a popular choice as it allows people to eat their lunch and still be part of the session. Having sessions monthly is ideal as it allows parents to network, follow up on actions and feel they are part of a group that is having a positive impact on their home and work life.
4. Every family is unique
Working parents come in all forms, ensure your network is welcoming to all types of family set ups. Every family is unique, male, female, adoptive, gay, trans gender from different backgrounds and from all levels of the organisation. Often parents’ networks are predominantly women, how can you ensure that fathers are also engaged?
The network will require some dedicated time and budget. However, from our experience this can be managed in a cost-effective and timely way if planned and mapped out effectively. Engagement is key, allowing parents to feel is accessible and useful. Having a well facilitated network, with regular opportunities to come together, as well as ways to contact each other between sessions, will ensure your budget is well spent on an audience that really values it.
6. Solutions focused
As working parents ourselves we understand the many challenges that come along with juggling working and parenting. Parents will naturally discuss the pain points, the overwhelming to do list, the lack of sleep etc. Using an experienced facilitator will ensure this is managed well, making sure the concerns are listened to and acknowledged as well as helping them to move forward: Exploring ways to manage and handle the challenges they are facing and providing positive and practical suggestions to try. Facilitators can keep the network in a solution focussed mindset.
We have been delivering working parents initiatives in the workplace over the last 4 years. Each network has been unique. We appreciate that as much as it can be a challenge for working parents, it can be overwhelming for organisations too to set up and keep running. We all know the importance of keeping our employees happy and supporting parents through this important stage of life. With the right support and direction, you too can create a network that is an asset to your employees as well as having a lasting impact on all involved.
Talk to us about how we can help you set up or transform your working parents’ network. We can also help you to extend your network to support your working carers as well as provide engaging content for network sessions as regular facilitators or guest speakers.