According to AMW, a commercial law firm, 625,000 women and 202,000 men took maternity/paternity leave in the UK from 2012-2013. It would be crazy not to support this huge demographic, experiencing possibly the most challenging period in their lifetime.
Question: "We offer several internal initiatives to support the progression and retention of women in the business. Why parents?"
As well as the above statistics, consider:
It is not gender exclusive
Supporting dads through the tough transition of becoming a new father, whilst grappling with work pressures, not only supports them as working fathers; it also sends out the strong cultural message that parenting is not just a woman's issue.
It will help retain your talent pipeline
Employees in their 20's, who are looking to start a family whilst possibly working in your organisation, will be looking for cultural signs - 'if I have my family in this company, will I be supported? If my older colleagues are not being supported to achieve a good work/life balance - where else can I go?"
Consider that most parents-to-be build up a strong social parent network at home. Word of mouth about how well supported at work new parents are is hugely powerful. Consider also that companies are increasingly in the press for their family-friendly efforts.
Flexibility, trust and independence is desired by the working parent more than any other benefit. If your organisation begins the cultural change process to support this, you will be preparing to embrace generation Y.
We have seen first-hand how maternity coaching programmes have reduced sick-leave, increased productivity and boosted return and retention rates following maternity leave.
1. Social changes mean that as families have moved around more and live further away from their own parents, new parents often find themselves feeling quite isolated from family help and support. That feeling of separation and having to cope alone, added to the enhanced pressure of being the perfect parent or 'yummy mummy' can be overwhelming.
2. The number of families where both parents are working has increased, especially recently due to financial pressures. This in turn places further pressure on the family unit.