How to Attract and Retain Working Parents

How to Manage Employees

Parent with Baby

If you're an employer, you might assume that people who don't have children make better employees than people who do. After all, the childless don't have to miss work when their kids are sick; they don't have to leave the office early to pick their kids up from school; and they don't have to schedule business trips around parent-teacher conferences, soccer games or dance recitals.

But here's something you might not realize about working parents: According to guest writer David Teten, they're extremely loyal.

"Those with children need flexible work arrangements more than the kidless, which makes them conservative with regard to job changes," Teten writes in a recent article. "The typical process is to earn the trust of managers, then figure out a work setup that meshes with a working parent's personal schedule. Once set up, they don't want to risk moving to a new situation which may be less accommodating. The downside of a move is very clear, and the upside uncertain. This makes some working parents less likely to raise their hand for a horizontal or a diagonal move."

Their reluctance to change jobs makes people with children ideal employees, because businesses that retain existing employees don't have to spend money to recruit and train new ones.

So, how do you attract and retain loyal working parents? First, Teten says, you must offer the aforementioned flexible work arrangements that working parents so desperately want and need. But that's not enough. To be considered truly "family-friendly," employers must give flex-time employees the same opportunities as traditional employees.

"The firm should make it easier for people with non-standard schedules to get diverse experience by allowing them to transfer these arrangements to other internal opportunities where possible and helping them make these arrangements work," Teten says. "It goes without saying that … promotions should also be blind to hours worked, and instead based exclusively on how much value the employee is adding. Consistently working long hours should be considered a sign of inefficiency, poor time management and propensity to burnout -- not a necessary credential to promotion."

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