Take part in a topical survey and catch up with My Family Care’s Jennifer Liston-Smith on the latest in maternity and paternity coaching; including how gender pay reporting, engaging with fathers, workplace flexibility, and innovative coaching all drive best practice around the parent transition.
Recent gender pay gap reporting has intensified the focus on the ‘parent transition’ as a key moment when employees – particularly women – often fall behind in their career progression. This is a key turning point in which employers may find their talent pipeline leaking. This could include promising staff draining away to more family-friendly competitors, falling behind in those crucial pay percentiles, or falling out of the workforce altogether.
Then there is the added engagement opportunity now around dads (or of course same-sex partners) wanting, and expecting, to be more involved in day-to-day parenting, alongside the birth mother or primary adopter.
All these factors have led many leading employers to implement support for new working parents. There is an increasing focus on creating a culture of flexible working, and providing enhanced pay above statutory levels for all types of parenting leave – including shared parental leave. By making shared leave and shared parenting more achievable, employers gain higher engagement and also give women greater choice about taking a longer or shorter leave. If a partner can, for example, pick up the last couple of months of leave, then the mother or primary adopter goes back to work sooner; and separately from the child settling into childcare, which can ease the transition considerably.
At the same time, the dad or partner would get to take a full, autonomous role in parenting, throwing off the outdated myths about ‘daddy daycare’ being somehow bungling and incompetent – taking the opportunity to bond and also creating a superb role model for work-life blend in his own place of work. All great for families and society and also extremely levelling in terms of the playing field at work, and the diversity of talent with an equal chance at progression.
Innovating coaching to suit busy working parents
Hot on the heels of flexibility and enhanced pay comes coaching for individuals and managers: pioneering a decade ago, now almost a hygiene factor in some sectors such as financial and professional service and STEM sectors. The most effective coaching at this transition focuses on career progression and leadership development, while also recognising the profound impact of the transition to parenthood (first or further times) as well as the transitions out and back from leave. And for today’s busy professional it usually needs to be accessible online and ‘just-in-time’ as well as through high level coaches.
The transition is certainly expedited by mentoring and passing on best practice in how to manage a well-planned leave and return; and it’s also a moment to create a proper space to think. The developmental potential of this transition is huge; but without a bit of recognition, the returning parent can feel an urgent need to re-prove their capability and a baffling pressure to navigate biases and assumptions about their priorities and career aims.
As well as the intellectual and emotional support – and challenge – of an expert coach, or online programme, many employers also address the practical side; providing support with finding childcare or emergency backup care, especially when arrangements can wobble in those early weeks of return.
Help shape the trends on the parent transition
My Family Care has put together a short survey to help explore the trends: is maternity or paternity coaching a must? What about support for managers? And what other support is put in place by those leading the pack?
Take part, share your experience and then get hold of the report on the latest best practice, as the competition rises between employers to retain talent through what can be a decisive point in a working parent’s carer.
Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.