It Takes a Village: How Donut Empowers Working Parents (Hers and Yours!) – Quartz | Ad On Picture

Through Dan Manianmanaging director and Carrie BiggarCustomer Experience Manager, at Donut

Dan Manian, CEO and co-founder of Donut, helps teams foster cultures of connectivity, collaboration and belonging. You can also find him playing music for business with his band, Mobile Steam Unit, and teaching a lean startup course at Brown University.

Carrie Biggar is a Customer Experience Manager at Donut and has been leading CX teams at companies like Lyft and Eventbrite for almost a decade. When she’s not working or raising her four-year-old, Carrie loves photography, crafting and Disney.

Raising a child comes with a unique set of difficulties, from sleep training and teething to meal prep and homework help. Many believe that childcare is a full-time job, that is when career and advancement are factored in return to office on Pandemic Parenting distance learning and infrequent childcare, it’s no wonder working parents are stressed.

As leadership teams navigate the future of work and reconsider the experiences they offer, considerations for working parents should be at the forefront. When it comes to work-life balance, building a robust workplace support system is essential to ensure working parents feel supported, heard, and have the right resources to thrive. At the beginning of 2022, our company, donuts, a Slack integration tool for team engagement, has created its first Employee Resource Group (ERG) for parents and carers. Here are some of the key lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Embrace flexibility

When it comes to parenting, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The same applies to work preferences. As of 2020, the workplace has been buzzing with debates about where employees are most productive, whether remote work will last, and what the future of work looks like. While leadership teams may be tempted to be consistent and find it easier when everyone works the same way, the reality isn’t so simple.

Parents have always been in the middle of these debates, and tensions have risen with the return to office. For some parents, the office may provide a more focused space for deep work, but for others, long-distance and hybrid options mean less time commuting and more time with family. This flexibility can make all the difference between doing a load of laundry, serving breakfast, or even saving some money for daycare.

While some parents may welcome a return to office, it can be distressing for others. At the end of the day, Donut feels the pressure of being there in person hurts everyone, especially the parents. The best results come from a flexible approach that allows people to do what is best for them. Enabling workers to choose alternative work options can improve employee satisfaction, employee retention, and overall workplace culture.

Create a community

Balancing the dual roles of parent and worker can come with a number of unwanted stigmas, and bearing that burden alone is isolating. leadership teams should form space for communities for working parents, providing them with a safe space to discuss challenges, agree on milestones and influence parenting benefits or policies where appropriate.

At Donut, our parent ERG holds virtual, kid-friendly, bi-weekly meetings where we discuss recent struggles (from potty training to school) as well as parenting achievements. Sharing those achievements is especially important because for many working parents, it’s easy to feel like you’re not giving 100% in any part of your life. It’s important to our ERG to celebrate the moments we’re proud of and uplift our co-carers. Ultimately, a supportive ERG group can help parents feel that their full identity is being accepted and that they can put their whole selves to work.

Working parents are a valuable part of any team, and at Donut we are committed to supporting these caregivers, even outside of our company. Businesses using Donut can set up Slack channels for working parents and Schedule 1:1 Introswhere parents are randomly paired to discuss their experiences or challenges and give them a dedicated space for problem solving.

We are also creating an offering geared towards parents and carers water cooler package, which we test internally in our ERG before making it available to parents everywhere. Businesses using Donut can use these topics in an education-focused Slack channel, and our integration will provide members with conversation starters for caregivers spanning self-care, proud parenting moments, and more.

Welcome advocacy

As the old saying goes, parents know best. Leadership teams should encourage working parents to voice their opinions and suggest the changes they want. At Donut, our ERG recently put together a proposal that expands, clarifies and proposes additions to Donut’s carer guidelines, including bereavement guidelines related to the loss of children and additional parenting arrangements – some of which have already been adopted. Through Listen By incorporating these ideas, the leadership not only shows support for working parents, but creates a warmer, more inclusive workplace for all.

Including events

Leadership teams often assume that parents cannot or do not want to participate in non-work related activities. But like any worker, it’s important for working parents to relax and have a little fun! Leadership teams can dream fun events for both parents and their wider team. Host a hybrid, take your kid to work, and send the company kids some cute branded shirts and toys. Then ask the parents to film their kids explaining what their job is (promise you’ll get some funny answers), or host a trivia event or magic show that everyone will enjoy. Aside from being lovable, these moments will allow teams to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for working parents and the lives they lead.

Inclusive events can also take the form of philanthropy. At Donut, we recently held a backpacking campaign to benefit the Kids in Need Foundation. Donut donated 25 backpacks and raised over $600 for school supplies. This team building activity was a fun way to get parents – and non-parents – to work together while supporting a good cause. The golden rule? Remember that, as with flexibility, every caregiver’s needs are different, so communicate that it’s okay if some parents can’t follow along.

Lend a sympathetic ear

Overall, the most important consideration companies should take into account is to actively listen to parents. When it comes to policy and performance development, leadership teams should ensure they engage supervisors in discussions to ensure well-intentioned policies hit the mark. Having conscious conversations with working parents to find out what they need goes a long way, even if it’s just, “What can we do to make you feel supported?” In those conversations are authenticity and established relationships important. Leaders should ensure that these moments don’t feel scripted, but genuine and specific to each individual.

To promote accountability, Donut holds regular leadership meetings where we discuss these issues and look for ways to implement the changes we have discussed with parents and others underrepresented groups. One way to ensure there are regular discussions with parents is to ask the leaders if they have had any feedback on a new policy or retreat, and then we discuss what those key learnings were. When collecting this feedback, be sure to get input from leaders with diverse representatives on their teams to ensure inclusivity.

By expanding support for working parents, leadership teams can reduce the burden on these employees and improve their overall sense of belonging. While it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an inclusive, supportive workplace to ensure working parents have the resources to thrive.

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