To retain more women and eliminate the high costs of employee turnover, leading employers are recognizing the importance of creating family-friendly workplaces by implementing progressive parental leave policies and family benefits programs. Yet shifts in office culture often lag far behind changes to company policy, meaning parents lack the support they need during the critical return-to-work transition and beyond.
Any comprehensive family benefits program must include training for managers—and that’s where Maven’s checklist comes in.
Here are four reasons why employers need to train managers to retain talent and create a truly supportive workplace for working parents and families.
1. Bias against parents—especially mothers—in the workforce is a problem, and it’s hurting retention.
There is widespread evidence proving bias against mothers is a systemic problem: mothers are viewed as less competent and less committed to their jobs (though that myth has been debunked time and again), and they face a lack of professional advancement termed the “maternal wall”. Consider this alongside the reality that pregnancy discrimination remains a major issue at some companies. As a result, 42% of women worry that growing their family will hurt their career.
For far too many new parents, these norms play out in their day-to-day through inflexible corporate cultures and managers who are unaware of the challenges involved with childcare, sleep training, pumping and feeding, and the like. As Maven Career Coach Mary Beth Ferrante, an expert in manager training and balancing career with parenthood, puts it, “The first step for managers is simply to become aware of how new motherhood can put a lot of stress on their employees and simply be aware of their own maternal bias.”
“The really innovative companies are doubling down on the return-to-work and manager training pieces.”
2. Our experience tells us that managers don’t have the resources or know-how they need to support and empower working parents who are their direct reports.
Sitting at the intersection of parenthood and career, we know firsthand from our experience with employers and employees that managers often don’t know where to start when it comes to supporting parents on their team. For example, we conducted a survey at a global business consulting firm that proved this: 67% of managers reported they did not have adequate knowledge of resources to address the needs of new or expecting parents who are their direct reports.
“One thing I often hear from Maven members who struggle with returning to work is that there is pressure from managers to resume a business as usual mindset, ignoring the significant shift in their lives,” explained Maven Career Coach Mary Beth Ferrante in her recent piece for Employer Benefit News.
How a manager responds to the news that a direct report is becoming a parent is absolutely critical and sets the tone (for better or for worse)—but that is only the beginning of what will be a shift in their working relationship. Managers should initiate partnerships with expecting parents at key moments before, during, and after parental leave to make space for transparent discussions around flexibility, transition planning, pumping needs, support or schedule needs around childcare and pediatrics, career goals, and more.
3. Managers are essential for attracting and retaining talent, and they have a key role to play when it comes to creating the family-friendly culture you want.
According to LinkedIn Learning, 76% of working professionals say that liking the boss they’d be reporting to was “essential” when considering a job offer, and nearly half reported that they have quit a job because of their manager. Training managers is key so they can help prevent biases, drive employee satisfaction and productivity, and attract and retain more talent.
4. The benchmarks are changing, and offering parental leave is not enough.
As the just-released Great Place to Work 2019 list of the Best Workplaces for Parents reveals, taking a holistic view of supporting new parents is key, and the top companies are doing more than just offering paid parental leave. Plus, a new study on the economic impact of paid parental leave policies in California—the first state to offer paid family leave—drives this point home as well.
As Kate Ryder, Maven’s Founder and CEO, discussed with Fortune, the best organizations for new parents take a holistic approach by offering benefits like career coaching, access to lactation consultants and breast milk shipping, and courses designed to increase leader empathy for employees coming back from parental leave. As Kate shared in the article: “The really innovative companies are doubling down on the return-to-work and manager training pieces.”
Now that you know the why, check out the how: Download Maven’s new Checklist for Managers today.
Consider our checklist a go-to playbook to equip managers with every step they need to take to support and empower parents before, during, and after leave. If you’re an HR leader, provide copies of this checklist to your managers and encourage them to use it as their guide when direct reports share the news they are becoming parents. Download the checklist now.
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