There's good news for working parents and their employers -- it turns out, having kids makes some parents more productive, which can be a boon to a business' bottom line. And those organizations that go above and beyond in supporting working parents also benefit from a more loyal, engaged and happy workforce.
According to a paper from the research division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, titled Parenthood and productivity of highly skilled labor: Evidence from the Grove of Academe, mothers of at least two children are, on average, more professionally productive than mothers of only one child, and mothers are generally more productive than childless women. Fathers of at least two children are also more productive than fathers of one child and childless men.
"Family-friendly benefits can help reduce absenteeism, boost productivity, and help attract and retain talent. Not to mention, bad morale and job satisfaction levels can cost companies billions of dollars annually in lost productivity," says Care.com co-founder and vice president of workplace solutions Donna Levin.
Here are some ways businesses can better support working parents and reap the benefits of this increased productivity.
One of the simplest strategies Levin recommends is flexibility. Whether through remote or flexible work arrangements, job-sharing, staggered hours or otherwise, working parents need flexibility. "Parents need to be able to go to doctor's appointments, their kids' baseball games, school conferences or to work from home if their child is sick. We say around here, 'if it's working at home, it's working at work,' so you have to make sure you're doing what you can to make it work for parents at home," Levin says.
Dependent care assistance
You don't have to offer an on-site daycare, though many progressive businesses do, but you should consider offering some type of subsidy for child care assistance, Levin says. If you have child-free workers, consider offering elder care or another comparable benefit. Not only do these kind of benefits inspire loyalty, but they're a great perk to mention when you're trying to attract and hire talent. "This is one of the largest expenses for families, so employers who can offer any kind of support are going to have a major advantage when attracting talent. It's not limited to full-time child care either, any kind of 'backup care', elder care and the like is a great benefit," Levin says.
Paid parental leave
Modern dads are more engaged than ever in all aspects of caregiving. As of 2010, fathers are the primary caregivers for about 25 percent of preschool-aged kids, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While the federal government mandates parental leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, that time is unpaid, leaving many two-parent working families trying to make ends meet without one income. It's even more difficult for single parents.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.