Parenthood and new ways of working: how to support your employees?

Hybrid Stories
October 17, 2023
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In today's globalized hybrid work environment, where on-site and remote working coexist, the balance between employees' professional and personal lives is a crucial concern for employers. This is all the more important given that almost 9 out of 10 employees are parents. An October 2023 study conducted by Les Parents Zens, reveals that 82% of employed parents might consider changing company to benefit from better support for parenthood. So, putting in place an attractive policy for supporting employees after parental leave is a major challenge for strengthening the employer brand.

But how can we effectively support mothers and fathers returning to work after parental leave, while adapting to the new realities of remote work and the flex office? It's in this ever-changing landscape that we call on the expertise ofAmandine Gicquel, founder of Coaching au Féminin and a former lawyer, to highlight the solutions available to companies keen to retain and attract talent.

Supporting flexibility

Efficiently balancing time and disconnection

Amandine emphasizes that flexibility does not mean working more or less, but rather organizing one's work in an optimal way. remote work is becoming a major asset for parents returning to work after parental leave, enabling them to save time on travel and devote more of it to their families. 

However, this flexibility, far from being a panacea, can be a double-edged sword and requires careful, intelligent time management. intelligent time management to avoid work overload. Companies have an essential role to play in guaranteeing a balance between professional and personal life, while helping their employees to manage their time.

In recent years, as work patterns evolve, companies have made significant progress in implementing time management and parenting support programs. By working together with parents, they have the opportunity to create a workable balance.

Setting benchmarks

Reintegration after parental leave is a delicate moment for parents. Companies need to recognize this major change in the lives of their employees and offer them a sense of direction. This may be easier said than done. Internal reorganizations, remote work, flex office and office moves are all disruptions that require time to find one's feet within the company

Without sacrificing their agility to reassure parents in transition, organizations must seize this opportunity to innovate in the way they help parents find their bearings. If these can't be fully re-established within the office, there are other ways of doing so. Interacting with colleagues, maintaining rituals such as the coffee break or team lunch, are all ways of creating essential reference points. This notion of reference points is of crucial importance, especially when organizational changes are underway.

Maintaining social ties

Social ties are indispensable, and our social nature makes them a necessity. The remote work website, despite its advantages, can sometimes weaken these ties, depriving employees of informal events such as farewell parties and afterworks, which strengthen interpersonal relationships. On the other hand, if properly managed, hybrid working preserves team cohesion, thanks in particular to better coordination of schedules. This makes it easier to get together and maintain a strong social bond, while helping parents in transition to reintegrate into the company.

Deconstructing the culture of presenteeism

Establish clear rules

Presenteeism, the cult of office attendance at all costs, is often criticized. Covid and remote work have highlighted its limitations. New ways of working have a role to play in accelerating the deconstruction of the culture of presenteeism, which is gradually evolving. Some companies are attempting to deconstruct it by evaluating employees on their performance rather than their physical presence. But is this transformation really underway? 

"There's a fine line to be crossed between declaring that as long as the job is done, employees can organize themselves as they wish, and really giving employees the opportunity to be flexible in the way they organize their day, without leaving any room for guilt."

Social pressure ("You're leaving at 5pm, did you take the afternoon off?") and habits die hard. But through hybrid working, young parents can better adapt their schedules to boost their performance, and play on a number of levers, such as the start time of the day or the lunch break.

Giving flexibility a framework

It's possible to create a flexible work environment while maintaining a structured framework. Amandine explains that employers and employees can define their "non-negotiable" rules, while allowing parents the flexibility to adapt to their family needs.

Working eight hours a day, being present on site 2 days a week or banning meetings after 5 p.m. are examples of "non-negotiable" rules that everyone should respect for the company's performance and development. Within this common framework, everyone can organize themselves as they wish to pick up their children or take part in an activity... as long as the framework is respected.

Communicating transparently

Communication remains a key element, with open conversations, regular exchanges and follow-up points. Asking simple questions, such as "What will it take for you to feel comfortable with this takeover?" can be extremely beneficial.

It's essential todare to initiate discussions and engage in constructive exchanges to find the right balance. This approach must take into account the company's cultureby allowing a degree of flexibility while defining limits. Experimentation and a "test and learn" approach can prove invaluable in finding the right rhythm.

Involving parents to co-construct the future

Amandine insists on the need to actively involve parents in the co-creation of solutions aimed at smoothing their reintegration. Involving parents is essential to ensure that solutions really meet their needs

To do this, Amandine advises companies to establish a direct dialogue with their employees, rather than assuming they know what's best, by means of pre-established rules: internal surveys, individual interviews, brainstorming sessions...

The ultimate aim is to create a working environment where parents feel listened to, supported and able to manage their work-life balance. Such an approach boosts employee satisfaction, builds talent loyalty and consolidates the company's reputation as aparent-friendly employer.

(Re)adapting to the professional world after parental leave, taking into account the new realities of the working world, is a major challenge. Companies need to take a more realistic view of the situation, considering the needs of parents in transition as a priority, but without allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by empty promises. This will not only support parents in their reintegration, but also ensure the company's prosperity in an ever-changing world of work, the true transformation of which has yet to be defined. Flexibility, transparency and parental involvement are major assets for companies wishing to create a working environment adapted to the changing needs of their employees.

Would you like to make it easier for your employees to organize hybrid work? Make an appointment to discuss it!