Have you ever thought about how many single parents work at your company? There may be more than you think. According to the Census Bureau, there were approximately 12 million single-parent families in the U.S. in 2016. National Single Parents’ Day, which takes place on March 21, is the perfect opportunity to celebrate single parents and determine how HR policies can better suit their needs. Working parents face unique challenges, but organizations can help alleviate the pressure on single parents with policies that help. Consider these three Quality of Lifehacks for supporting single parents in your workplace.
Be flexible. Most parents would be thrilled to have the option to work from home when a child is sick or when schools close. For a single parent without a partner to share childcare responsibilities, it’s critical. Flexible work schedules, including the ability to work from home, provide employees who are single parents the flexibility they need to build successful careers. Of course, these policies benefit everyone, not just single parents—employees who feel that they have control over their schedules are more satisfied with their jobs and happier overall.
Offer a safety net. If offering a work-from-home option is not possible, an alternative is a backup childcare program. Parents at times must cope with sick children, school closures, nanny cancellations, and other issues, so a backup option is essential for a single parent. Backup care services can provide peace of mind to employees, and allow single parents to save their sick days for when they need them. According to the 2014 Families and Work Institute National Study of Employers, only about 8 percent of large companies offer this benefit. Your organization could be on the cutting edge with this creative solution to a common parenting challenge.
Let parents keep kids close. Flexible work options and backup care services help on days when something goes awry, but what about single parents of young children, who need childcare help every day? Some workplaces, such as the Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., have an on-site childcare center. This allows employees to visit children during breaks and helps them save time that would typically be sucked up shuttling little ones around. According to WorkingMother.com, the on-site childcare option boosts employee satisfaction and engagement among all parents at Discovery, but it’s even more important for single parents. Without a partner to share drop-off and pick-up duties, eliminating the need for an extra stop at daycare each morning and night saves single parents time and energy.
Which policies at your workplace demonstrate organizational support for single parents? Tell us in the comments.