How just one coaching session from HR can provide a vital lifeline to working parents…

Working parents and carers are once again in one of the hardest-hit groups of employees as they struggle to balance their work commitments with their caring responsibilities.

Many organisations have gone above and beyond to show support and recognition for these tough times by offering financial help, days off and webinars/online learning to working parents.  The feedback we hear from parents is that this has been very much appreciated, but does little to alleviate the daily feeling of stress, overwhelm and exhaustion.

For those in HR and Learning & Development who feel they want to roll their sleeves up and get more involved in helping those employees who need it the most, offering a virtual coaching call may be just what is needed.  At a time when we are all inundated with online courses to manage our mental health, daily media reminders to exercise and get outside, it’s easy to become immersed in advice-giving; tip-sharing and ‘if I were you’ style conversations.  This approach can be super helpful, however, every one of our individual situations is totally different – from our support networks, our social systems, our physical environments, our mental health, our parenting styles and outlook on our careers.  What we as individuals value the most may also be vastly different to others, which means that what solution works for one, rarely works for another.

With coaching, given that the first golden rule is to listen and NOT offer any advice, we believe that everyone already has the right answer for the problem they are facing.  A good coaching conversation creates a safe, confidential and empathetic space, to allow individuals to talk freely and reflect on what is causing them to feel overwhelmed.

Here are some coaching questions that could be used to help your employees:

How are you feeling at the moment?

(general, open-ended question to allow people to start expressing themselves)

What is the hardest part?

(helps people focus on identifying the main thing that’s stressful or difficult)

What could the positives of the situation be?

(helps people consider the issue from different angles)

If you could picture yourself in say 6 months’ time; looking back at this period, what do you want to be saying about it?  What do you want to feel about it?

(helps people think ahead and look at the bigger picture and to begin to envisage a time when things will look better)

What are the things you do that make you feel really happy?

(often parents have forgotten what makes them feel happy because they have been putting the needs of their children/family ahead of their own)

What 1 small step could you take today to do something that makes you feel happy?

What 1 small step could you take tomorrow or next week?

(these questions start to focus on moving forward and identifying an action.  This doesn’t have to be a huge change or commitment – often changing one small habit a day can snowball into choosing more positive actions)

Most people are drawn to HR roles because of their desire and ability to help people.  Creating a coaching culture can start with your own team and have a huge impact on employees’ lives. 

If you would like to find out how we can support you to mentor or coach parents internally, please email

This week’s blog is written by co-founder of Parent & Professional, Helen Letchfield.