There is a baby formula advert currently on the television telling us that even though we have no experience or training in the job of being a Mum, it is still our job. And that got me thinking….obviously in the real world, the same is true for Dad’s…but do we really not have any “training”?
True most of us have not been on a parenting course before we have children, but there are a number of support groups, support networks, friends, family, health and social professionals that are typically there on call for us to use and rely upon as and when we need them. They give us advice, guidance, “coaching and mentoring” in their various areas of “expertise” that we find invaluable, even if that is only to see a different perspective from our own.
But what happens and how would we feel as parents if we did not have those support mechanisms. Personally I would be at a complete loss and certainly within those first 2-3 months, I would have seriously struggled, and I think it is safe to say that would be most new parents. So why don’t we have any level of support in one of our biggest areas of life when we are about or are starting to embark on the journey of parenthood? WORK. Many people spend the majority of their time at work prior to having kids and many times even after having kids – yet none of us have any support at work to help us in one of the biggest transitions in our professional and personal lives.
Considering flexible working is on the rise and will continue to be so, as it should be to accommodate the professional world of the future – should we not be ensuring that all the support mechanisms are in place and not just in helping to get the job done but also in helping the employee. With flexible working many boundaries, ground rules and parameters are set in order to give everyone the assurance (manager and employee) that work objectives are achieved, but what about the other areas of a person’s life? As per my previous blog, “No More Workface”, should we not be managing our employees holistically – meaning considering what other areas we can support our staff to ensure we are able to get the most out of our people?
There are so many rumours around the perceptions, some real some not, regarding the impact of parenthood on work. These are well documented in a variety of surveys that have been completed by other organisations, such as ‘Opportunity Now’. So why don’t organisations create a training programme that allows employees the opportunity to explore what the REAL impacts will be on work, so that they can make informed and intelligent decisions? This would even open up the opportunity for employees to have an adult conversation with their manager on the real impacts so they can together make some decisions on what parameters and boundaries are reasonable and need to be made. Most organisations have a training programme for staff who will soon be entering retirement because it is recognised this is a major transition for employees – why not for parenthood? Is it not just as major of a transition? And just as important?
I would argue it is more important because parenthood can and many times does have a greater impact because it occurs during a staff’s professional career, rather than the end of it. It is well documented that many organisations lose a great deal of their talent due to changes in “life circumstances”, i.e. parenthood. So if we want to increase our chances of retaining talent, then perhaps we need to look at not just creating the systems and methodologies of building a flexible workplace, whilst readying the business impacts on an organisation, but also train and manage the individual through the processes and change of what flexible working and parenthood means to them.