Supporting Parents in the Workplace
I began my role with The Wellbeing Partners over two years ago, shortly after my daughter joined our family. The position was part time, flexible, and a “perfect fit” for a stay-at-home mom. Seeing that the work aligned with my expertise in child development and the mission was something I cared about, I jumped at the opportunity.
Joining the team was a dream. Many of us were mothers and understood the tricky balance (read: lack of balance) of working and mothering. Those that were not parents consistently showed grace, understanding, and encouragement. We know and love each team member’s children. When someone has a sick little one at home—we check in. The sleepless nights of infancy—we bring coffee. The frustrating beginnings of potty training—we empathize. The challenges of behavior—we listen. We see each other as whole people, and do not expect one another to separate our home life from our work life. Sadly, this is not the experience that most parents have in the workplace.
My work as the Youth Wellness Coordinator for The Wellbeing Partners has brought me into many conversations about parents—grandparents, foster parents, aunts…people caring for children in their home in any capacity–in the workplace. What does it look like to support employees in their parenting journey? What would happen to employee productivity…retention…absenteeism if we could cultivate a culture of valuing the parenthood of our employees—the way that I feel my parenthood is valued at TWP? What would happen to the mental health of the parents in our communities, and ultimately the mental health of the children in our communities, if parents felt supported and equipped in their roles as parents?
During an April 2021 Community Pulse Check, we learned that 74% of people in our community feel strained between work and caregiving responsibilities, but only 47% felt that their employer understood that strain. This data was sobering but unsurprising. So, we wondered, what do the employers think about this? In our 2021 Member Survey, we asked employers if they would be interested in providing parenting support for their employees. 70% said yes. Additionally, 75% said that they would like to be providing resources to reduce stress at home for their employees.
The pieces of the puzzle are coming together:
– Employees who are parents want parenting support
– Employers value and want to support their employees who are parents
– Being supported as parents reduces adult stress, and most importantly, supports the mental health of children
TWP is excited to be working on a pilot program to do just this. We are even more excited to begin offering this program to employees of member organizations in the months to come. This year we’ll be working to design a discussion-based cohort for parents at a pilot site to learn research-driven solutions for their parenting struggles and build a parenting community within their workplace. Employees will be able to attend 1:1 strategy sessions to discuss their specific challenges. They’ll be connected with resources and community within their workplace to support their parenthood journey.
The only thing more exciting for us than embarking on this journey is considering the impact that this will have on our children.
If your company or organization is interested in learning more about this program or sponsoring this work to bring it to your employees, please contact Melinda Sorenson.
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