People who work and raise children at the same time account for almost half of the employees in companies. Achieving balance in this field is, however, a big challenge. As much as 64% of women and 45% of men declare that obstacles connected with joining work and family responsibilities have arisen on their professional path. At the same time, the percentage of parents encountering such difficulties is growing year by year.
Most often, as a problematic situation, the participants of the Hays study "Women in the labor market 2019" indicate the need to choose between involvement in family and professional life. Both women and men emphasize that official duties make it difficult to fully participate in their child's life and significantly reduce the time spent with the family.
Accordingly, they also mention situations related to the child's illness and the inability to take days off. They also often talk about the lack of facilitation on the part of the employer, indicating, among others, inflexible working hours, overtime and business trips that very often make it difficult to perform parental responsibilities. Women additionally point to the necessity of a quick return after maternity leave and difficulties in returning to a previously held position. They emphasize the lack of favor of the company, superiors and co-workers towards motherhood. They also note the lack of ordinary kindness – especially on the part of people who do not raise their children at the moment.
COMPANY'S REPLY TO THE NEEDS OF PARENTS
Fortunately, organizations are increasingly willing to open themselves to the needs of their parents. Many companies offer additional benefits for this group of employees in their offer. In addition to flexible work arrangements and home work opportunities that facilitate the reconciliation of family and professional responsibilities, companies offer additional vacation days, child care subsidies and extended parental leave. Parents can also count on gift vouchers and funding.
At the same time, not every parent knows whether benefits for working parents are available in the current workplace. Even if the employer provides assistance in this area, the lack of awareness of the employees is a big loss. In the end, the conviction that the company cares for the employee's family life translates into a better perception and promotion of the image of the workplace as a family-friendly place.
FLEXIBLE BEFORE EVERYTHING
It is worth listening to the needs of employees raising children. It may turn out that instead of expensive family benefits offered by the employer, the possibility of a slight shift of working hours is more important to them. As studies and market observations show, the first response to the challenges of working parents should primarily be to provide them with greater flexibility and independence in choosing the time and manner of performing their duties. Some solutions do not require additional expenditures on the part of the employer, and can significantly contribute to the employees' satisfaction in their private and professional life.
In many cases, the lack of flexibility is an argument for changing the place of employment or even forgoing a complete job. Considering the current situation on the labor market, where the challenge is to recruit and retain a qualified employee, both scenarios are extremely unfavorable for employers. It is a good idea, therefore, to allow employees raising children at least to choose the time of starting work in a given time period, so that after working for 8 hours, the employee can leave and punctually pick up the child from school or kindergarten. Such a solution very often does not involve any negative consequences for the employer, but it can be an argument for the employee to remain in the company for the employee.
The importance of flexibility at work is emphasized by employees in all Hays surveys. Today, such a facility should be available in any organization, unless the position requires a physical presence in the office.
"Flexible work should not be treated as a privilege, but a way to perform professional duties. This solution is beneficial not only for women – which, however, will be more willing to plan their professional future, when they will not choose or devote an area of professional development at the expense of family commitments – but also for employees who need time for non-professional activities and for people caring for their parents," says Paulina Łukaszuk, communication manager at Hays Poland.
Flexible work now offers about 70 percent. companies. Most often, flexibility means the possibility of starting work in a certain time interval, remote work (home office) or an option to use in the implementation of a specific project. Interestingly, as the Hays study shows, there is a difference in the perception of the availability of flexible work solutions by men and women – the possibility of using flexible work solutions is declared by 62% in turn. women and 72 percent men. Although the difference in perception is visible, the percentage of employees talking about the availability of flexible work is growing each year. There is also a growing percentage of employees who say that flexible work is of great importance to them.
Companies are more and more open to the needs of working parents, but it is worth remembering that successful cooperation also depends on the employee himself, specifically the way in which he prepares the organization and his team for changes in personal life. Honesty, openness and trust must be mutual. Today, it is difficult to talk about a responsible, conscious employer who does not support its employees in developing and achieving a healthy balance between professional and personal life.
Of course, each employee has different needs and aspirations, but regardless of his or her role, he or she should be able to implement personal choice in every area of life.
"Everything starts with open communication, establishing needs and mutual expectations. It is worth remembering that every employee needs support. Attractive salary, career paths and training are important and needed, but good relations with the employer and mutual understanding mean a lot more," adds Agnieszka Kolenda, Director at Hays.