What would you do if you found that your people were struggling when returning to work after parental leave? If you're the leading professional services firm in our story, you find a solution -- a way to help ensure that employees making the transition to parenthood can thrive both on and off the job.
Working parents must develop new skills while managing it all at work and at home.
As any working mom or dad will tell you, the dual responsibilities of parent and employee require people to hone new skills in time management and planning. And before mastering these skills, some new parents have lost confidence or felt forced to change jobs in order to manage it all.
Rather than let its people struggle alone, this organization set out to improve employee confidence. While recognizing that the transition from professional to professional+parent may be difficult at times, they'd send the message that long-term success is not only possible but likely -- with a little patience and the right support.
Coaching helps working parents reinvest in themselves and their careers.
This mission led the company to offer new parents coaching through a partnership with Life Meets Work. To date, just two years in, more than 200 employees have experienced the program. Participation continues to grow as employees encourage one another to participate.
And early signs show a reduction in turnover within the 3-6 months following a return from parental leave. With clear plans about how to succeed, employees are more confident. They know that they can make it all work. And this confidence inspires them to reinvest in their careers at the company, on a long-term basis.
Coaching helps working parents improve communication with their managers.
Employees who participate in coaching have a platform to figure out how to define -- and talk to their leaders about -- what they want in their career. Coaches give employees a chance to practice and improve how they communicate with leaders about their goals, creating more thought-out and compelling career strategies and recruiting leaders to support them. Coaches also work with employees to plan and prepare for other complex conversations, like asking for flexibility, making those strategies more successful.
Coaching helps working parents facilitate peer networks.
One participant was working with her coach to improve her time management skills. The coach saw a connection between the skills the participant was working on and the strategies another participant at the company had mastered during coaching. With permission from both employees, the coach introduced them to one another. Both employees are now benefiting from each other’s experience and social support.
The company’s leadership hopes that connections like these will form relationships that employees will continue to leverage as they grow their careers.
Three tips for successfully implementing a coaching program for your working parents:
Programs like coaching take some time to truly take off. Give early adopters some time to share their experiences with others in the company. The word of mouth confirmation that the program is confidential and effective will drive utilization. If retention is the goal of your program, it is important to allow for enough time to see retention numbers increase.
Employees may not jump at the program when first presented, especially if they are not yet parents or ready to be parents. Advertising it several times in different media (newsletters, emails, maternity leave packets) is key to getting it in front of employees when they are ready to use it. This employer advertises the program in their maternity and benefits packets, a monthly Q&A on maternity benefits, has and handouts on its intranet. And the company tailors the messaging to different stages in the parenting process, including employees still considering parenthood.
Managers are an important part of the conversation about coaching. There are materials specially created to inform them about the program and its goals. These materials help managers be ready for the kinds of conversations that employees will be coached to have with them. Managers can also suggest the program to employees who are struggling, giving the managers another tool for enhancing performance and supporting the working parents on their teams.