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Flexible Working: How Employers Can Support Working Parents and Foster Carers

Supporting working parents and foster carers is the right thing to do for your people and smart business, too. By nurturing a caring culture around work-life balance, you empower your team to deliver their best at work and home.

Photo by charlesdeluvio from Unsplash.com

For many employees, balancing their professional and personal lives is an ongoing juggling act. Between caring for children, household duties, and succeeding at work, modern life can feel like a constant race against time.

Thankfully, forward-thinking employers understand this struggle and are evolving their policies to empower staff with greater flexibility. Offering working parents and foster carers more agile options benefits everyone; staff feel supported, children receive dedicated care, and companies attract and retain talented people.

Why Flexibility Matters

Gone are the days when the stereotypical family comprised of a stay-at-home mother and a breadwinner father. Now both parents commonly work, sometimes in addition to raising their own children or caring for foster children. They need employers who appreciate their responsibilities outside of work and provide the flexibility for them to fulfil both roles successfully. Many parents worry about returning to work after having a child, while would-be foster parents often ask, “can you work and foster?’. With flexible workplaces, these worries are unfounded.

The advantages of offering flexible and remote working are extensive. Employees experience less stress when they have arrangements tailored to their needs. They take fewer sick days, feel more motivated at work, and are less likely to leave their jobs as a result.

Types of Flexible Working

So, what kinds of agile working options can employers offer working parents and foster carers? Some popular choices include:

  • Flexi-time: Employees can alter their start and finish times provided they work an agreed number of hours.
  • Staggered hours: Working parents arrive and leave at different times to share school run duties.
  • Compressed hours: Working full-time hours over fewer days. For example, four 10-hour days per week.
  • Annualised hours: Employees work a certain number of hours over the year but can vary times daily or weekly.
  • Home working: Working remotely from home either occasionally or permanently.
  • Shared parental leave: Available for mothers and fathers allowing both parents time off.
  • Emergency time off: Unpaid leave at short notice to deal with family emergencies.
  • Special leave: Extra unpaid or paid time off for foster carers when settling new foster children into the home.

How Employers Benefit

Embracing flexible working doesn’t just advantage your working parents and foster carers. It also nurtures a diverse, dynamic workforce and enhances your reputation as an employer of choice.

Studies show that employees who work flexibly demonstrate greater engagement, productivity and job satisfaction. Reduced absenteeism and staff turnover also save your business money.

Attracting skilled millennials and parents is easier if you promote family-friendly policies. And in the future battle for talent, flexible employers will be best placed to hire the brightest candidates.

Photo by charlesdeluvio from Unsplash.com

Making Flexibility Work

Changing deep-rooted attitudes around traditional office hours can take time. And implementing agile working practices across teams does require consideration.

It’s important to have open conversations to understand your employees’ needs and agree on workable arrangements. You’ll also need to review resourcing levels and develop flexible cover strategies for meetings and deadlines.

But the benefits for your people and your organisation far outweigh the efforts required. The rise of digital communication and remote working has proven successful flexible policies are possible – we just need imaginative employers ready to pioneer them.

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Supporting working parents and foster carers is the right thing to do for your people and smart business, too. By nurturing a caring culture around work-life balance, you empower your team to deliver their best at work and home.

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Your "not that regular" all-around gal, writing about anything, thus everything. "There's always more to discover... thus write about," she says in between - GASP! - puffs. And so that's what she does, exactly. Write, of course; not (just) puff.

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