Improving the employee experience

Here are some simple ways to improve the employee experience of parenthood.

Where possible, make the experiences inclusive, so parents of both genders feel confident and excited to partake in activities.

Here are some simple and more ambitious ways your business could improve the employee experience of parenthood. Where possible, make the experiences inclusive, so parents of both genders feel confident and excited to partake in activities.

Mentor matching

  • Pair new or expectant mothers with experienced working mums. Mentors can help to support new parents by engaging in candid dialogue about balancing career and family and providing institutional support – ranging from navigating systems and processes to building networks and planning for a successful re-integration.
  • Pair new or expectant fathers with those who have taken paternity leave. Invite them to act as spokespeople or champions for paternity leave, sharing their stories with others.
  • Consider a reverse mentor program to help leaders and senior managers to stay connected to norms and realities within their organisation. Matching senior male managers with expectant and returning mothers could help them to understand diversity issues at a more human level and support female staff to develop quality relationships with senior executives.

Manager toolkits

  • Develop succinct toolkits, discussion guides, conversation check lists and other resources that will help managers to support expectant and returning parents. Consider including information about entitlements under the Fair Work Act (including policies surrounding time off for antenatal care, requests for flexible work, carers leave, keeping in touch days and return to work guarantees.)
  • Particular sensitivity should be exercised for miscarriage and stillbirth. Managers should be supported to have sensitive conversations with employees and understand the breadth of supports available to them.
  • Print ‘quick guides’ and place these around the office or develop short videos that answer common questions or summarise key policy points.
  • Consider developing a dynamic discussion template that will support managers to have meaningful conversations with their employees about where they work, how they work and their ambitions after they have children.
  • Offer manager education and training to support parental leave transition and flexible work.

Leveraging online communities

  • Consolidate information about policies, entitlements and support and make information easily available on the intranet or company website. Ensure that the page is user friendly, can be accessed on mobile devices and includes up to date contact details if employees wish to discover more about services. Being transparent, open and honest about company policies and offerings can have the added benefit of attracting talent to your organisation.
  • Set up a group for parents to help them stay in touch, swap childcare tips and even trade children’s clothes and books. If employees don’t have access to IT, a noticeboard in the break room can work just as well.

Employee designed supports

  • Consider inviting recent returners to co-design a ‘what we wish we knew’ pack for new and expectant parents. This could be added to online materials, distributed across the office or shared with managers and leaders to facilitate discussion and help them to support employees.

Staying connected

  • It is good practice to have a meeting with the employee before they go on leave to discuss how often you will keep in touch and the most appropriate channels for doing so. Ensure that you have up to date contact details and (if desired) arrange for employees to have remote access to their emails. Let employees know that they will receive important news about the business, invitations to social events and have the option to dial in to the occasional team meeting if they so desire. This may change following the birth of the baby, so be sure to keep checking in.
  • Under the Fair Work Act, employees on unpaid parental leave are eligible to work up to 10 days during their parental leave. These ‘Keeping in Touch’ days can help to support re-integration back into work. These could include attendance at the annual planning day, training sessions or regular informal catch ups with the manager and team.

Online learning platforms

  • Consider information or training that employees may require upon returning to work and develop tailored training for them upon return. ‘Keeping in Touch’ days can be used to enable ongoing training if desired, to support employees to feel confident on their return.

Parental policies

  • Develop a written lactation policy to support breastfeeding employees and ensure they have access to suitable facilities to express and store breast milk. Having a written policy will ensure that managers, supervisors and HR employees can respond appropriately to requests, and will signal that the company takes requests seriously.
  • If possible, consider topping-up the Government parental leave payments.
  • Continue superannuation contributions during paid and unpaid parental leave.