Many new businesses start with great intentions, to create an innovative service or product and flexible and inclusive culture that attracts and keeps great talent. But marrying the two can be a challenge when HR budgets are slim and set up costs focus on output and delivery rather than internal policies and procedures. Hoping that your business will naturally grow with your employees and meet their changing needs as they arise is not the best plan for success.

Unless you have a good understanding of what it means to become a parent, businesses of all sizes can find that they’ve inadvertently created a culture that excludes rather than includes mums and dads and your new parents are struggling to make their work and home life work.

The business case for retaining parents in the workplace is compelling. There have been many reasons cited why mothers are good for business, but as more dads are realising all work and no playtime isn’t the life they want to lead, the case for ensuring both sexes feel included in your business becomes even stronger.

Statistics from the 2017 Modern Families Index – the largest survey of its kind to measure how families achieve a work-life balance – were published in January this year. Amongst its findings was the data that 53% of millennial fathers said they wanted to downshift to a less stressful job in order to be more present parents and supportive partners. Understanding the desires and goals of your younger men and women is vital to ensuring a sustainable pipeline of male and female talent that takes your business forward.

What can companies do to retain new parents?

There are many options available to businesses but showing parents-to-be positive and relatable role models who are successfully making it work ranks as my number one. When I start working with businesses I generally recommend starting with a survey and culture review, however many employees you have. We will look at your current policies and procedures against 10 key ‘best practice’ markers and agree a timeline and commitment to change, along with metrics for measuring success to keep momentum and focus.

Changes don’t have to be expensive or slow to implement. Quick wins can be incredibly powerful and companies can overlook simple things they are already doing but not shouting about effectively or that only needs a simple tweak to really hit the spot. 

How can parental leave be part of a company culture?

Setting a good example from the top is the obvious one here. Max (Mills) Miller, dad of two and co-founder of ustwo only really understood the value of equal parental leave when he realised he’d missed out on it. As a result his business recently made a commitment to give new mums and new dads the same paid parental leave – a full 6 months, which is a great start. Having a predominantly male workforce it’s a bold move but one that I’m sure will reap rewards. Equal pay and more women in our boardrooms will never come about if we don’t address the way we parent and share child care so start with a policy and culture that encourages both parents to have the option to care about their career and their children. Putting these things in place early on will ensure your business can meet the demands of 21st century living and lead to loyalty, trust and respect from both your employees and your clients.

To learn more join Lisa at Bob’s next London HR Meetup on 22 June. 

Lisa Barnwell

From Lisa Barnwell

Lisa Barnwell is the Founder and CEO of Bumps and the Boardroom, helping to unlock the leadership potential of parents- to-be and support businesses to be more diverse and inclusive. Drawing on her experience of creating London’s first maternity destination clinic which nurtured around 10,000 mothers and babies; providing coaching and support to over 2000 women in corporate finance, consultancy, law, property, fashion, tech and media and advising senior HR leaders on organisational design, HR and talent strategies in a business partnering role she is passionate about sharing her wealth and knowledge to support new ways of thinking and working.