By Jo Harley, Managing Director of Purple Cubed
In an attempt to further engage and retain their people KKR & Co, a private equity organisation recently introduced a perk that pays for parents to bring both their child and carer on business trips. On the face of it, this seems like a step in the right direction, encouraging talented women back into the workplace by allowing more precious time with their baby, though it could also be counter-productive as it actually encourages parents to spend more time at work.
At the other end of the scale, Amazon was called upon by former employee Julia Cheiffetz to re-evaluate its parental leave policies after she returned to work after five months maternity leave to be was placed on a ‘dubious performance improvement plan’. She subsequently resigned.
Many organisations are clearly still struggling to find the right balance when it comes to helping talented people to accommodate personal needs and interests; currently this often applies to parenthood. However as more people from generation Y and Z are pursuing portfolio careers and everyone has the right to request flexible working, organisations should be extending how they manage talented parents to the entire workforce. Here’s how we’d suggest putting this into practice:
- Work towards a culture whereby people are measured on their outputs, just because they aren’t in an office at a desk nine to five doesn’t mean people won’t produce results. Communicate what you are doing and why in order to get buy-in from all.
- Be fair; avoid possible discrimination against people that don’t have children by making sure you are fair and consistent. By setting out clear guidelines from the outset for example, which roles require attendance at the place of work and which can be fulfilled elsewhere.
- Ensure that people have well defined goals, channels of communication and ways to collaborate should they need to. Tools such as GoTo Meetings and Lync are great for this. And for people who don’t work full time or are absent from work, ensure there are procedures in place to catch up on anything that they may have missed.