I don’t mean to brag. Well, yes I do actually. It’s important to share something when it works so well – not in the quest for recognition, but with the genuine reason to inspire. What pray tell am I inspiring, I hear you ask? A workplace and an employer – in particular, a CEO – that reflects the epitome of leadership in terms of supporting working parents do both their core jobs really well. Those two core jobs being – their job on their employee role description and their job as a parent.
The purpose of this blog is not to big up my company or even my CEO however I will be doing this because it’s all true. The purpose is to highlight that it is absolutely, utterly possible to make everything we hear about how to create more productive, thriving businesses – by virtue of our support for working parents – a reality. The company I work for is a living example of what’s possible when you allow all the employees to live a working parent’s dream.
So what’s so great about this company?
1) Flexible Work Arrangements
We have no restrictions on when we work other than a core number of hours, which are flexible from week to week (within reason). Meaning – if we need to attend a school assembly on a work day, we can. If we need to swap a day, we can. We simply make it up another day.
Every person in the team has a different flexible work arrangement – pretty much dictated by themselves. My personal work structure looks something like this. I’m naturally an early riser so I do a couple of hours at home before my daughter wakes up. I then get her ready and drop her off at the bell and start work at 9.30am-10am in the office. I then leave at 3.30pm. Sometimes I do a bit more at home in the afternoon. I’ve recently changed to this routine. Before it was different. Before that it was different again. I’ve adjusted this routine according to the various child care transitions and life situations I’ve had.
There’s also the option to work from home which I do so one or two days a week. My colleagues have different schedules to me – some will start later and work in the evenings. Others will spread their hours over more days.
We can dial in to meetings from home without an issue. We can work from home when our kids are sick without an issue. We can bring the kids in to the office, without an issue. Truly, there is no issue with this – no grudges, no sly remarks.
All this flexibility doesn’t make for chaos and confusion as it works on the basis of each of us having a flexible mindset and understanding around how we work and how our colleagues work. I.e. sometimes we will have to wait an extra day for a document to come back from a team mate. We simply need to 1) be realistic with our expectations and 2) be clear in our communications about what we need and by when.
2) Supportive Family Environment
I don’t mean support for your family – although this is also the case – I mean that my CEO has a genuine care and consideration for how we are feeling. This may be around our workload or how it was dropping your child to childcare that morning, or support developing a skill, or a little extra help paying the bills on a tight month.
This is an all-inclusive environment where no part of the team is made to feel less and the value of each person’s role is appreciated. Each person is integral to the delivery of a quality service and by caring for the team it is the client and their employees that ultimately benefit as we transfer this same care into the work we do.
This kind of supportive environment makes you feel like you can approach your employer or manager with anything. Sure, not all of it you will both agree on but there is a mutual respect for your contribution and the think-outside-the-box culture is such that ideas or new approaches are always encouraged. In this way growth of the individual and the company are synonymous. This is because when we each step up and give more of ourselves or expand our skills in some way we contribute to enriching the business as a whole by continuously evolving and promoting innovation.
3) Connection to Purpose and Constant Appreciation
We are constantly appreciated for the quality of work we are delivering, not by the number of hours we do. The focus is very much on the purpose for why we do what we do – in our individual roles and as a company. By the constant reminder to connect to our purpose we are able to stay on track with priorities and keep the end goal in mind – to provide true care and support for working parents and to make workplaces and homes all the better for it.
Personally, the purpose for me does not come from being told to connect to purpose. It comes from the reflection of what the CEO offers. She genuinely wants to offer true support for the individual employee. She does this by looking at the individual employee as a whole life – so she’s holding a support for the individual at work, she’s holding a support in consideration of their family and she’s holding a support for the team as a collective and how they work together.
4) 100% Commitment from Leadership
All this support fuels a commitment and a dedication to our work, to our employer and to our clients. This is because we value the work-life balance we get in return – that is, we value the freedom we get to orchestrate our working schedule to suit our other life commitments. And you know what this means for the business? We are all powerhouses of productivity – every single one of our team. We all want to provide the best quality service; we all want to work to our potential and at our best.
We all want to provide a service that matches the quality of care we are receiving from our employer.
This support from leadership is authentic, it is consistent and genuine.
The Obvious Bias
My obvious bias here comes via a genuine desire to share a work experience that works. I have not been asked to write this article, it was not suggested to me to write it, it is not in my best interest to do so. It is simply a sharing of a way of working that is possible for all employees, managers and organisations.
The company I work for is Parents At Work, a business that has been credited by the Australian Human Rights Commission for its contribution to the life of working parents. The CEO is Emma Walsh, your everyday, mother of three who sees the great value and immense potential of giving working parents what they need. The team I work with is made up of your everyday, normal working parent superstars.
If you are a working parent who would like support with creating a work-life balance that works for you feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are an employer or from an organisation that you feel could support working parents better please contact us on email@example.com.