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By Shubika Bilkha
Organisations are about to be confronted by an unprecedented problem that will have a direct impact on their survival - the rise of millennial parents!
Millennials currently constitute 50 per cent of the workforce, slated to grow to over 70 per cent in the coming years. Estimates indicate that one in four millennials will look for a job change in one year, while 44 per cent will look for their next step in two years. As millennials lead the charge in the workplace focusing on values over loyalty, faster career acceleration, looking for involvement, engagement and meaning, wanting more flexibility and balance, while believing that the organisations priorities should include enhancing the employees' lives and careers, companies and HR departments are grappling with ways in which they can retain and manage these employees.
If that wasn't enough of an organisational challenge, a number of mid to senior-level millennials are now becoming parents themselves and look to their employers for support. While HR policies and initiatives are getting increasingly new parent-friendly, businesses are still largely ill-equipped to deal with the parental transition to keep these individuals engaged throughout it.
According to our global survey, 76 per cent of new parents are sleep deprived, 70 per cent of millennial parents indicate that work pressure impacts the kind of parents they want to be, and two thirds of millennial parents believe that there is a gap between workplace messaging and the reality. With retention of women post maternity being a consistent challenge across organisations globally, the survey further indicates that only 50 per cent of women return post-maternity with about half of them leaving within the first six months of returning.
In our diversity and inclusion practice, we find that while organisations offer parental leave, creches, flexibility, support networks and more, they still struggle at the core in bringing continued engagement of their new parents.
In our practice of parental transition coaching where we work with both the new parents and the managers/leaders to provide the requisite support, we find the following essential as organizations look to work with their new parents:
Communicate to engage
As new parents return to work it is essential that organisations have an open dialogue with them to check in on their progress, challenges and requirements. Engaging a coach or mentor for the first six months will be helpful to address some of the issues that may arise during this time. Remember, for a number of these individuals there are two simultaneous transitions, that of leadership and parenthood.
Work through the guilt
The transition to parenting is laden with guilt at multiple levels, with a number of parents feeling like they aren't doing justice at home, at work or with their families. It is imperative that organisations address the guilt to provide the requisite support and assurance.
Keep it simple
Most new parents are sleep deprived and dealing with a constant stream of overwhelm in their lives. The loss of control of their schedule, the added sense of responsibility makes this an emotional journey for a number of new parents. Allowing for flexibility, assuring them of their career growth, working with them on their time and task management and prioritisation, while encouraging balance, will be important to support them through the stress.
Developing an ecosystem
While a number of organisations are now driving mentorship and encouraging support networks for new parents, the ecosystem which is most relevant is the immediate team. For managers and leaders, driving this support base for new parents will be important in building a culture of support and trust for improved team dynamics.
Coaching managers/the leadership
While a number of organisations have programmes that work with new moms and dads, it is equally important that they focus on leaders/managers and the team to make them aware of the challenges.
Parental transition is one of the most challenging phases an individual goes through in their life. For organisations, creating an environment that supports, encourages and nurtures executives during this critical stage is important for both individual and organisational success.
(The writer is an entrepreneur, author, leadership coach and Advisor Partner, EdpowerU.)