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Nearly three quarters of employers say retaining female talent in the workforce is the most important issue in HR in 2017

Next year Childcare Vouchers will be replaced, marking an enormous change in the way the government supports their parenting population and affecting millions of families and thousands of companies across the UK.

With the increase of free childcare from 15 hours to 30 hours per week for three to four year olds – and tax free childcare set to launch – it’s very understandable that confusion is rife amongst parents and employers alike.

Employers will be busy searching for new and innovative ways to replace their offering of childcare vouchers and promote their family-friendly ethos.  To help businesses benchmark themselves against others in their industry My Family Care, the UK’s leading provider of family-friendly employer solutions and  global recruitment experts, Hydrogen have  undertaken some research amongst HR Professionals  in the UK as to what they see as the priorities and concerns for the coming months.

The survey of 300 HR professionals revealed a huge range of policies to help their staff.  The most popular were[1]:

  • Employee helpline/assistance programme
  • Proactive support and communication of flexible working
  • Encouraging other types of leave (e.g. unpaid parental leave/additional holiday purchase)
  • Family events at work (e.g summer or Christmas parties)
  • Advice/help with adult dependent or eldercare solutions
  • Advice/help with childcare solutions which may/ may not be part of a wider helpline
  • Coaching/training for managers on supporting working parents/carers
  • Backup care in childcare emergencies
  • Parents network
  • Seminars/webinars on parenting/caring related topic

Most employers revealed that flexible working and supporting working parents and carers was important to them but strikingly, nearly three quarters (70%) rate the issue of retaining female talent after parental leave as the most important issue[2]. However, 60% of HR professionals said their company provided noform of coaching or training support for their employees going through the parental transition[3]

When it comes to the success of their family friendly initiatives, flexible working proved to be the most successful, followed by their Childcare Voucher Scheme and then enhanced maternity or Shared Parental pay[4]

When employees choose to take time off with the arrival of a new baby, it seems the enhancement of Shared Parental pay is still far behind the enhancement of Maternity or Adoption pay with 57% of respondents enhancing the latter[5], but just one in four (25%) enhancing Shared Parental pay (SPP)[6].  However, of those who don’t enhance SPP, 61% say they were reviewing their policies and may enhance in the future[7]

Ben Black, CEO of My Family Care says: “Every HR professional wants to know how they compare to their competitors when retaining and attracting talent and so we hope this report proves insightful.

“The most enlightening finding was the fact that nearly three quarters of employers said the issue of retaining female talent after parental leave was the most important issue but shockingly just 40% said they provided support for employees going through the parental leave transition.  Employers need to understand that if they want to attract and retain the best female staff who would like to have both a career and a family they need to make changes to help them.  Things are slowly changing – but they need to change much, much faster!”

Ian Temple, CEO of Hydrogen says: “As a specialist recruiter we see first-hand how hard it is for organisations to find the right people with the right skills, especially in the context of an increasing UK skills gap. Those that want to create or maintain a diverse and highly skilled workforce need to work harder than ever before to support their existing staff throughout their career and life.

“Family friendly benefits are slowly improving amongst some forward thinking employers; enhanced maternity or paternity pay, remote and flexible working arrangements are becoming more commonplace, but for many employers there is still a huge amount of work to be done. The line between life and work is blurring and for many of the highly skilled people that we talk to, family friendly benefits are now a high impact decision factor when seeking a new role.”

Within the report there is an intricate breakdown between businesses and their enhancement of maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave benefits to enable companies to benchmark where they compare with others.  On an observational level, based on the limited numbers available, it appears the public sector, charity, health and social care and education sectors are the most ‘generous’ employers[8]

My Family Care’s Childcare & Family Friendly Benefits: Employer Survey and Parental Leave Benchmark is available to download via https://www.myfamilycare.co.uk/resources/white-papers/family-friendly-benefits-employer-survey-and-parental-leave-benchmark/.