Negating the Parent Trap: Helping Working Parents Move Up the Career Ladder

Career ambition isn’t just for the childless: parents have career dreams, too. But too many unwritten rules in the workplace keep parents trapped in lower-level positions.

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We’ll first delineate some of these “rules,” and then we’ll offers some suggestions companies could use to help working parents move high up the career ladder.

Take a look below.

  • Presentism

The number of people working from home has risen greatly in the last few years, up 44 percent over the past five years and increasing by a whopping 91 percent over the last 10 years. People doing all kinds of work and of all ages embrace the concept. Parents especially like the idea due to the work-life balance telecommuting offers.

Yet telecommuters lose out when it comes to job promotions and while many workplaces today say they want their employees – parents or not – to have a good work-life-balance, who tends to get the job promotions? Those workers who work full-time in the office: telecommuters and other remote workers are 50 percent less likely to receive a performance-based promotion than in-house employees.

In other words, if a manager doesn’t see someone doing their job, no matter how great their output and quality of work, it’s much harder for them to receive a promotion than someone who works in the office (and who is regularly seen by a manager).

  • You must not be serious about your career if you ask to take time off to see your child’s basketball game.

This harkens back to presentism and really hits parents where it hurts – in both their hearts (family) and their professional ambitions (many employers expect “that employees devote themselves fully to work.”)

Employers Lose, Too

It’s not just employees that lose when they don’t get a promotion: many workers have left a company – and take their skills, education and corporate knowledge with them – if an employer balks at offering flexible schedules.

Helping Your Company by Helping Working Parents Move Up

How can you help employees who are parents with their career goals? We have some ideas, below:

  • Focus on employees’ output/quality of work rather than how often they’re in the office.

Does it really matter when and where an employee works as much as the fact that the work gets done on time and is of high quality. Does it really?

  • If you don’t do so yet, start offering a telecommuting program and/or flexible schedules.

A telecommuting program is a big perk to many candidates, and can help you attract the best-of-the-best. Just don’t “punish” those of your workers who take advantage of it and doubt their value to you as well as their dedication. Conduct a gut check on whether you – and other managers – have a presentism mindset. If you see it’s there, fight it. HARD.

  • Provide online training opportunities for telecommuters.

Your remote workers want to learn new skills, just as your in-house workers do. But if you offer only on-site workshops and benefits/perks for in-class education, you could be hindering your remote workers’ chance to learn new skills and certifications. Because working parents often opt to telecommute, this can be detrimental when a promotion opportunity requires some type of certification or education level.

  • Have regular “How are you doing?” and “How can I help you with your goals?” conversations.

Ask your working parent employees what they need to help them perform at their best. See if their suggestions are something you could implement.

  • If you’re a working parent yourself, remember the challenges you faced if you wanted a promotion when your children were young(er).

Remember how hard it was to prove yourself as a working parent? The obstacles and challenges that came your way your non-parent colleagues didn’t face. Don’t forget your own beginnings and have compassion and understanding for ambitious employees who just happen to also be parents. You were just like them once; remember that.

When you need high-caliber workers for your temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire job opportunities, call upon the experienced recruiters at Helpmates for help. Reach out to the branch office nearest you and learn more.

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