Guide to Starting a Parent Support Group in Your Office
Published by: LifeWorks,
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 61.1 percent of married-couple families with children under the age of 18 in the United States had both parents employed in 2016.
More employees are feeling the pressure of managing both their career and raising their children. Fortunately, companies of all sizes can offer support through working parent groups, which encourage peer-to-peer learning and support for parents.
Start your own working parent support group in four simple steps:
1. Create your mission and vision
Start by defining the purpose of the group. Describe the ultimate goal—to help working parents empower each other through education and support. Then, write the vision and mission statement for your group. Your mission should be a concise statement of your overall purpose, while your vision explains your end-goal.
Create smaller organizational goals to measure the effectiveness of the group as well. For example, one of these could be to reduce the stress levels of working parents. Conduct self-assessments regularly to measure this.
Your goals, mission, and vision should be clear, concise, and easy to promote to members. Seek approval from senior leadership to show employees the company supports the group.
2. Sponsor and promote the group
One of the most important aspects of the group is determining how it will be funded and operated. Start by coming up with a budget that allows your group to achieve their goals.
This can be as small or as big as you want. The minimum likely calls for food and drinks during meetings, but you can also allocate budget to buy your team resources, like parenting books, and pay for events outside the office.
A parent-friendly workplace culture is successful when people from all levels are on board. Enlist the help of other leaders to join and show support for the group. Managers and supervisors, for instance, need to announce the group and promote it during meetings.
You can also work with your marketing team to create promotional materials, like signage, to hang in the office and monthly newsletters for parents. This helps raise awareness of the support group.
3. Establish a schedule
To accomplish the group’s goals and get the most value out of your efforts, create a schedule that includes consistent meeting times and locations. You can use your company conference room or get out of the office, depending on your employees’ preferences.
With each meeting, set a topic/theme so they are informative. These topics can vary from teaching parents about managing self-care and learning emotional intelligence to handling the financial stresses associated with parenting.
Appoint group facilitators who can help prepare and host these meetings. It’s best to plan out a few months in advance so you can actively promote the upcoming topics. Following each meeting, include the top takeaways and tips in the parent group newsletters.
4. Encourage feedback
These groups are great for employees to identify their major pain points and offer solutions. They can brainstorm and suggest changes to policies to help make your office more parent-friendly.
One common solution is creating kid-friendly workplaces. For example, software company Wildbit offers space in their workplace for employees to bring their children to play. Parents can even host kids’ parties at the workspace.
Etsy, an e-commerce website for handmade items, hosts ‘crafternoons,’ where families work together on crafting projects in the office. Their parent employees also host an email group to share parent-related information.
These parent-friendly solutions can make a big impact on job satisfaction and greatly reduce turnover and absenteeism. Encourage the group to speak up and offer solutions of their own to make your office a great place for parents to work.
Don’t settle for a workplace culture that leaves parents feeling unsupported and misunderstood. Show them you care by fostering an environment that offers a sense of belonging and encourages them to speak up for change they want.