Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Supporting working parents - expert commentary by Sodexo Engage

Graham James, Director at Sodexo Engage:

1. How can employers help working parents with childcare?

“In today's fast-paced work environment, the demands on working parents are greater than ever. The adage "it takes a village to raise a child" has never rung truer. Employers must recognise their role in this village and find innovative ways to support working parents with childcare.

Be Family-Friendly, Always: Remember those virtual meetings during the pandemic when a child popped into the frame? It was a reality check for many. Employers should continue to embrace this reality and make it part of their culture. We've adapted to these interruptions, and it’s not as big of a deal as we all thought it might have been. It's time to make them a permanent feature.

Flexibility is Key: Let's empower employees to own their hours. This flexibility can be a game-changer for working parents who need to be there for their children during the day.

Meetings with a Purpose: Let's rethink meeting timings; parents often need to find child-free spaces for calls. By scheduling meetings at specific times, businesses can help parents plan their work around childcare.”

2. Particularly if they are implementing a return to the office policy?

“The return to the office is a significant transition for everyone, especially for working parents. Here's how employers can make it smoother.

Flexibility is Not Fading Away: Flexibility should be a permanent feature of work. When you're implementing a return-to-office policy, ensure it accommodates the unique needs of parents. Allow them to adapt their schedules to meet their childcare needs.

Offer a Helping Hand: Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are invaluable. They can guide parents in finding affordable childcare options, balancing work and life, and accessing financial assistance. Providing access to such programmes demonstrates your commitment to your employees' well-being.

As business leaders, our responsibility goes far beyond steering our companies to success. It encompasses the crucial task of building an inclusive and adaptable workplace that empowers all our employees, particularly working parents. By embracing flexible work arrangements and ensuring ready access to essential resources, we pave the way for a brighter future — not only for our organisations but also for the families it supports.”