Building a better future for working parents: Flexibility is key

With many working from home the last one and a half years, what can they expect when society becomes “normal” again? Many organizations and companies have good experience with teleworking, but how much flexibility will continue? This is especially a relevant question for employees with children, as 94% of working parents say they would benefit from flexible work arrangements according to a new report. 

Charter and Vivvi just published A Better Future for Working Parents: A playbook for leaders and organizations, a report based on interviews with leaders, working parents, and change agents.The result is a comprehensive document that uncovers the state of working parents today and outlines strategies for organizations and leaders committed to better support caregivers.  

The report’s findings highlight the importance of having an holistic approach to DEI that goes beyond traditional categories such as gender and race/ethnicity. Other diversity categories, like sexuality, disability, religion, age, education, and in this case, family, are often equally important when creating new policies to ensure such policies are inclusive. Employees belong to multiple diversity groups, and each of these groups have different needs. For this reason, Denominator has taken an holistic approach to DEI data and performance benchmarking, enabling organizations and countries to understand, create, and benchmark solutions for each specific situation. 

Working parents need flexibility. The pressures of the pandemic have only increased the need for policies such as remote and hybrid work, flexible schedules, part-time positions, and job shares. For these policies to be successful, it’s essential to build formalized, robust structures to give employees clarity and ensure equitable implementation. 

In the past month, 54% of working parents worked outside normal hours to make up time missed caring for their children, for an average of 7 times. 

66% of parents agreed that they would benefit from an alternative schedule (no one type of schedule rose to the top) 

  • 39% of parents would like the ability to work any time 
  • 26% would benefit from starting or ending their workdays at different times 
  • 20% are interested in alternate weekly schedules outside of Monday-Friday 9-5 

For most caregivers, existing employer benefits don’t do enough. To support parents and other caregivers, companies must provide adequate paid family leave, child-care benefits, and mental health, and coaching support. At organizations that already provide these benefits, managers must provide the education, and support that employees need to take full advantage of them. 

Three out of four parents who have reported having some kind of child- care benefits said they don’t meet their current needs

Employers must create work cultures that value caregiving at every step of the employee life cycle. This means rethinking practices such as role design, manager training, and performance evaluation to support and celebrate caregiving. It also means rejecting outmoded styles of leadership that focus on output and long hours in favor of management practices that leave workers with time for themselves, their families, and their communities. 

66% of working parents are feeling burnt out at work, and 78% of working parents have missed work over the past 6 months to care for their children, averaging 5 times. 

The effects of the pandemic showed many employers what most working parents already knew: the way we work doesn’t work for caregivers. As organizations look forward to returning to the workplace, avoid returning to the old ways of work. Instead, we urge leaders to build a new kind of workplace—one where working parents have the power to dictate flexible schedules and take part-time roles; can count on high quality, affordable child care, and paid family leave; and work in an environment that supports, respects, and celebrates caregivers. It’s up to organizational leaders and individual managers to start building that future. 

The two organizations, Charter and Vivvi, are both invested in reshaping work for working parents and builds a better future for caregivers in two different ways: Vivvi works with leading employers to provide flexible, affordable, and high quality child care; and Charter works with organizations to shape priorities around the future of work and catalyze workplace transformation. 

You can download a free PDF of the playbook here.