Mandy Garner: Should employers be doing more to support working parents?


There are several arguments for employers to do more to support working parents or to at least be understanding of the kind of pressures they face. Back in the day, when flexible-working legislation was first introduced, the idea was that parents needed special treatment and that employers that catered to flexible working were doing so to help their employees, thus, flexible working was a benefit offered by employers for employees.

We have moved on since then, and many employers realise that flexibility works both ways. Not only does it allow them to retain and attract experienced workers, but they are likely to be more loyal and more motivated as a result of being able to work in a way that enables them to have a greater work-life balance, or at least see a bit more of their families than they would have done without any flexibility.

In a similar way, many of the most progressive employers understand that offering family support, be that childcare support, maternity or paternity counselling, parenting sessions, parenting networks or eldercare support, will benefit them as much as their employees. They see the link between employee wellbeing and productivity, between a happier workforce and a more motivated workforce. They understand that employees are at the centre of their business and how they treat them will, ultimately, impact their bottom line.

Given that parents make up a significant percentage of employees, it makes sense then on every level for employers to try and understand what might make their lives a little easier. By understanding what the stress points are and making changes that remove at least some of that anxiety, employers can enable their employees to focus more on the job in hand and to work better. That must surely be in everyone’s interests.

Mandy Garner is editor at