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Finding the balance between work and family life can be difficult. But for employees living in single parent households, striking this balance is even more of a challenge.
From school runs to nursery care and busy morning routines to tight budgets, there’s a lot to think about as a single parent. And it’s an issue that employers must begin to recognise in the workplace. In this article, we’ll cover some of the common problems single parents working face.
Then, we’ll look at ways that you can provide help for single parents working full time.
Being a single parent is twice the work. When family responsibilities all fall on one person’s shoulders, it's hard to maintain a job, make time for self-care and tend to any other responsibilities.
This causes several issues to arise for employees who are single parents and working full time. We’ve listed some common ones below:
Burnout. Parental burnout happens when unrelenting parenting stress takes its toll on mental and physical health. This stress gets triggered by overwhelming exhaustion relating to the parenting role, emotional distance in the parent-child relationship or lacking a sense of effectiveness as a parent.
Parental burnout can cause employees to feel exhausted, disengaged, unproductive and un-motived. Parents need time for their own mental and physical health, as well as their work.
Career progression. Employees in single parent households may find career progression difficult. Childcare can be costly, especially if there’s only one source of income.
This lack of childcare means that some parents can’t afford to take on any extra pressure at work, stay later hours or commit to additional responsibilities. The hours a single parent can work is unique to every circumstance.
But it’s easy to see how this home set-up can hinder career progression.
Financial struggles. With only one income, it's hard for single parent employees to fund a family. There are some single working parent entitlements available to those working more than sixteen hours a week such as help with rent, council tax and child benefits.
These single parent benefits can improve financial struggles, but it doesn’t eliminate them. Financial struggles can be a great source of stress. And if this continues long term, it can have adverse effects on mental health.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to look after your staff. This involves looking after their mental and physical wellbeing. When you take the time to consider employee struggles, you can start to adapt your policies and procedures for the better.
You can support your single parent employees and see positive improvements in employee engagement too.
It all starts with recruitment. You can set your intentions by being willing to hire single parent applicants. You might feel on the surface level other candidates could work more hours for the organisation, but first judgements aren’t always an accurate representation of ability.
Single parent employees bring a new set of skills and abilities that adds diversity to your workforce. And we know that diverse workplaces see better levels of productivity and creativity.
To avoid burnout, employers must consider the workloads of their staff and the demands placed upon them. If you overwork staff, you'll see stress-related absences, long-term sickness, and low morale. For single parent employees, workplace stress can add to an already full schedule.
Combat this by assessing team workloads and considering any improvements that you could make. It could be additional team members, more manager support or further employee training.
Help with childcare costs for working single parents can be a huge weight off the shoulders when there is only one income in the household. For parents to go back to work, they need to find reliable childcare. By providing this assistance, you show your consideration for employees.
As a result, they feel valued, and this improves their attitudes towards the workplace. You can offer help with childcare for single working parents in several ways:
Life as a single parent back to work after time off can be challenging. To help employees overcome these struggles, you could set up a single parent support network in your organisation. When people can come together and relate to each other, it offers a chance to reflect and work through difficult thoughts and emotions. It also provides an opportunity for single parent employees to connect socially, which can be a common issue. Having a support network is a preventative factor against mental health in an individual’s life too.
When you’re a single parent and working full time, managing a regular work schedule can prove a problem.
Picking up and dropping off children from childcare may clash with an employee’s work schedule. And remember it could be male or female employees who need flexible working hours.
Flexible Single parents and other employees are legally allowed to request flexible working hours with their employer. As an employer, you must reasonably handle these requests and meet with the employee to discuss this. The more flexible you can be with your single parent employees, the better.
Health Assured’s Employee Assistance Programme offers a counselling helpline that is open to employees 24/7, 365 days a year.
Our counsellors can support your employees with any life problems they’ve been struggling with. This service can be especially useful for single parent employees who have a lot of responsibilities to attend to.
We can also provide assistance and guidance to help you start supporting your single parent employees. Our workplace wellbeing experts can guide you to create a supportive work environment that boosts engagement and morale.
Want to find out more? Book a free consultation with one of our wellbeing consultants. Call 0844 891 0352 for help on promoting health and wellbeing at work.
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