8 Things Working Parents Wish Their Boss Would Say
Get inspiration from this list of ways companies can help working moms and dads.
Do you seem to spend your entire day juggling the demands of your family with those of your job? You're not alone. The majority of today's workforce is made up of parents. Forward-thinking employers realize this fact and are providing these working parents with the flexibility they need to thrive on the job and at home.
If your boss hasn't boarded the family-friendly bandwagon, maybe this working parents' wish list will enlighten your employer.
"You're Getting Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave"
Taking time off for a new child poses a dilemma for many employees. The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn't require employers to give paid maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The Department of Labor's Family and Medical Leave Act allows for 12 unpaid weeks of leave during a one-year period to care for a newborn or seriously ill family member. However, the act doesn't cover part-time workers and those at companies with less than 50 employees.
Unfortunately, not all bosses are as understanding as Jessica Peterson's, author of the blog, Jes' Delights. Peterson says she had an awesome maternity leave by U.S. standards and she crafted a gradual return to work with her boss' support. "I wish that paid leave was mandatory in the United States and extended beyond 12 weeks," she says. "This would not only give parents more options, but also help improve the health and well-being of mother and baby, and ease the transition back to work."
"We're Providing Child Care Options"
Most parents say that their No. 1 priority is making sure there's a safe and convenient place to leave their child while they're working. Family-oriented companies are providing free or affordable child care options as an employee benefit, including access to resources for finding nannies and day cares.
"We'll Help You Care for a Sick Child"
Employers aren't always sympathetic when parents take unexpected time off because their child is sick. Having the option to work from home can help, as can having access to backup child care through programs like Care@Work. If these aren't available options, allowing employees to make up lost hours or use their own sick days can offset the financial burden.
Sara Dixon, author of the Super Punk Rock Mom blog, works 40 hours a week as an EMT while managing her family of four. She says her boss shares her "family first" philosophy and has been extremely supportive: "My employer allows me to make up hours on nights or weekends that I miss during the week due to emergencies or illnesses. This flexibility keeps productivity up, because I'm still able to get 40 hours of work completed."
"You Can Work Around Your Child's Schedule"
Working hours are usually not in sync with school hours, and most organizations don't recognize the same holidays as schools.
"I think one of the biggest challenges I have had with juggling work and the kids is the conflicting schedules," Dixon says. "Schools make it nearly impossible for parents to work steady eight-hour days, especially considering our district has an early release day once a week."
Dixon relies on family to help out and her employer allows her to come in earlier so she can leave in time to pick her daughter up from school. Employers sometimes have room to be more flexible with their employee's schedules without compromising productivity. Allowing employees to work weekends, swap hours or get an earlier start are just some of the ways bosses can help parents meet their obligations.
"Take a Day off If You Need To"
If you wish you could take an extra day off now and then to spend more time with your family or get household chores done, see if your boss will let you work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour ones. Many companies allow compressed working schedules, even those specializing in customer service.
"Would You Like to Work From Home?"
For many workers, the advent of the Internet has made working from home a viable option. Employees who telecommute tend to be more productive and work more hours when they are doing it on their own schedules. If your job doesn't require face-to-face interaction with clients, then telecommuting, at least part of the time, may be a good fit.
"We're Offering a College Savings Plan"
Having a 401K is a great incentive to prepare for your future. More companies are realizing that working parents also need to prepare for their child's future, and they have started offering 529 college savings plans. With a company-sponsored plan, employers match your contribution up to a certain percent or dollar amount per year.
"We're Offering Family Fitness Memberships"
Staying healthy and stress-free is as important to the company as it is to you and your family. Many companies realize that staying active promotes a healthy lifestyle, and are providing their employees either with fitness facilities on-site, or memberships to fitness centers. In return, these companies experience less absenteeism, lower health care costs and happier employees. And while gym memberships for individual employees are great, some companies even open them up to the whole family.
When it comes to what working parents want from their employers, it's not always about the money. Parents wish their bosses would be flexible and more supportive of their family's needs. These intangible benefits go a long way toward ensuring a happy, productive employee, which pays off for the company.
Ilene Jacobs is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas. She enjoys writing about a variety of topics, ranging from food, fitness and travel, to kids, pets and senior care. You can find some of her work here.