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How your company should support you as a working parent

Returning to your job after having a child can be one of the most difficult transitions of your life.


US companies are increasingly instituting policies aimed at easing the burden on new parents in the workforce.


Still, many managers and corporations are ill-equipped at coaching their employees through this transition, which can have significant implications on the performance and happiness of their employees, as well as the retention rate and productivity of the company.


Today more than ever there is a significant need for companies to invest in working parents.  Here are some tips and best practices that your company should be implementing to help working parents in their careers:


1. Listen

An employee may look content on the outside, but that doesn’t always tell the whole story.  Make sure your company is setting aside time between you and your manager to talk through not just professional issues, but personal things as well.


If your relationship with your manager isn’t comfortable to the point where you can have this type of conversation, find a person on your team to share personal connections with.  Listen to their issues as well.


It is often assumed that new parents in the workforce are ready to resume where they left off.


Often, we need the proper support systems in place from our companies and our co-workers in order to feel energized and creative again at work.


2. Challenge the way things operate

If your company culture doesn’t support new parents in the workforce in the way that it should, you can be the person to step up.  Be the leader to make sure that work-life balance is taken into account in your company’s decision-making process.


If you feel like you don’t have the programs, support staff, and time to dedicate to helping re-center the balance between work and life, odds are you aren’t alone in that conviction.


3. Invest in re-entry programs

There are programs specifically designed to support new parents in the workforce.


Do some research and find out which one fits best with the priorities and values of your company.


4. Establish mentorship initiatives

Cultivate a culture where new parents in the workforce can support each other.


New parents are often confused and exasperated by the range of emotions they experience after the birth of a child.  It can mean the world to someone to know that they are not alone in these feelings.


Employees who have experienced these emotions can be valuable mentors for other working parents, especially first-time parents.


5. Support proactively

Create an environment where new parents in the workforce feel comfortable and know where to look for support.


It is not the parents’ burden to seek out support from within their company. In order to establish and maintain a culture of compassion, the company needs to be proactive in communicating their support for parents.


That can be done through mentorships, support groups, outside-of-work activities, or one-to-one conversations.


6. Take it easy

New parents in the workforce have enough to think about.


They should be able to ease their way back into the workforce and minimize their emotional strain and build their confidence.


Provide flexible scheduling options for both new dads and new moms.  And institute those options in practice, not just in theory.