Staff who are supported and engaged by their employers are likely to be more loyal and more productive. Our What Working Parents Want-2020 report revealed the work-life facilities and arrangements which are most valued by employees. What did we learn along the way?
makchic’s Family-Friendly Work Practices tool kit has information and resources to successfully manage and support:
- Expectant parents
- Employees on parental leave or those on a career break
- Working parents
1. For Employees
- Seek out support networks to prepare yourself for life with littles. If your organisation does not have one, request mentorship from an experienced parent or speak to Human Resources about starting an avenue which can identify and create solutions for parents. Utilise software such as mighty networks or google currents to easily build communities and start conversations around parenting topics.
- Start joining in-person and online parenting groups for working mothers, parents in general, or specifically for fathers, e.g. ibu Family Resource Group and Better Dads Malaysia
- Find out your entitlements from your employer as a parent-to-be and for your child.
2. For Employers
- Provide an avenue to connect parents so that they can support one another at work through different stages of life, including conceiving, the childbirth experience, and the confinement period. Reference tips for developing support networks for parents and soon-to-be parents.
- Support parents with talks and tips by internal or external experts such as Better Dads Malaysia on topics relevant to employee parents, e.g. staying resilient while working from home (WFH) with kids, sex education, misconceptions about fathers, and empty nest syndrome.
- Communicate any parental leave arrangements, including options to extend maternity leave at full or reduced pay, adoption leave, paternity leave, pre-delivery leave. Child advocates recommend six months paid parental leave and at least four weeks paternity leave to give children the best start in life. The flexibility to opt for a shorter maternity or paternity leave and utilise it at a later time would be helpful.
- Update expectant parents on any benefits relating to childbirth, e.g. claimable maternity expenses including pre- and post-natal care, fertility treatments, baby gear. Some companies celebrate the addition to the family by awarding birth/adoption gifts.
- Plan for the gradual transition of workload to other team members, and manage expectations of parties involved.
- Furnish a room (this could be the nursing room) for expectant mothers to rest in, and look into designated parking near entrances for them. Security escort services would be a bonus.
Employees on Parental Leave or Those on A Career Break
1. For Employees
- Keep in contact with team members and fellow employee parents at your company to remain updated on work matters, and reduce isolation. If you are able to, participate in community-building or any training opportunities.
- Update your supervisor on when you would like to return to work. Explore options to work part-time, do project work, or return gradually through phase-back work.
- Make and test out childcare arrangements for when you resume your career.
- Parents on a career break should assess their readiness to return to work. Tools like www.irelaunch.com’s assessment quiz can help you to gauge your appetite for work, the time you spend caring for dependants, and what support you can tap into.
- Participate in career comeback programmes to update your knowledge, reskill, list your CV, and network. Lean In Malaysia, Rebound.asia, the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) Agency, and TalentCorp offer initiatives to help those who are not in active employment.
- Seek out returnship programmes which help experienced talents transit successfully back into the workforce through on-the-job training. You may even be eligible for a Career Comeback Tax Exemption if you receive a 2-year contract of employment.
- Keep your skills sharp through volunteer or freelance work, which will also help to fill in gaps in your resume.
2. For Employers
- Connect with those on parental leave or a career break by sending them updates, including them in any company-wide activities, and also offering them continuing education programmes, especially those which can be accessed virtually.
- Look into flexible work arrangements for parents looking to return to work: phase-back work for gradual reintegration, job-sharing, compressed work week, work from home, project work, or seasonal work.
- Develop a programme to assist parents coming back to work after a long break by upskilling them in current developments and software or offering returnship experiences. Such programmes may be eligible for tax and other government incentives.
- Bolster self-confidence and support by assigning mentors and peers to help personnel manage the new experience of working life after baby.
1. For Employees
- Familiarise yourself with your employer’s flexible work arrangements (FWA) and apply for those which you would like to utilise. If there is an arrangement not already in place that could work for both you and your employer, consider proposing it.
- Reach out and connect with other working parents for advice and empathy on the challenges of juggling work and domestic duties.
- Take regular breaks for movement, mindfulness, self-care, and to practise hobbies which can keep you alert and healthy.
- Schedule work calls at times which work for you, e.g. when your children are occupied or there is someone who can mind them.
- Take advantage of expert advice on health, productivity, child development, and life hacks.
- Connect with your colleagues through regular virtual check-ins to maintain the feeling of community.
- Request mentorship from an experienced parent who can help guide your career development while achieving parenting goals.
2. For Employers
Flexible Work Arrangements
- Implement adjustable daily working hours, work-from-home, reduced workload, sabbaticals, and other flexible work arrangements (FWA) through clearly communicated guidelines on criteria, usage, and performance review. Visit flexWorkLife.my to refer to case studies from other employers and for toolkits to implement FWA. Check if you qualify for government incentives under the National Economic Recovery Plan when you implement or enhance your company’s FWA.
- Enable FWAs such as working remotely through secure digital collaborative tools, connectivity, online productivity training, and allowances or equipment to set up an ergonomic home office. Check with banks for financing earmarked for enhancing WFH productivity during this pandemic period. Telecommuting guidance materials are available at flexWorkLife.my.
- Empower and reward leaders who champion FWAs for their team with the aim of talent retention, diversity, and inclusion.
- Track usage and access to various flexible work options to ensure equal access to career opportunities by parents and non-parents.
- Allow paid time off for parental concerns, including extended maternity leave, paternity leave, family emergencies, medical appointments, sabbaticals. Find policy implementation guidelines for such work-life benefits at flexWorkLife.my.
- Encourage collaborative work and reduce isolation with regular check-ins and company-wide communities. Specific tips regarding working from home while minding children, fitness, and virtual coaching could help to boost wellbeing and productivity.
- Guard against unconscious bias with guidelines and workshops to remind managers that employees who have spent time away from work (e.g. career break, maternity, compressed work week) should not be unfairly penalised during performance evaluation.
- Encourage leaders (especially senior male colleagues) to role model work-life practices such as flexible schedules and parental leave. Communicate their success stories.
- Consider providing childcare resources – through subsidies or an on-site childcare centre which can help to reduce absenteeism. Reference best practices on setting up such a childcare centre at the workplace by the Companies Commission of Malaysia and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Grants and tax incentives may be available for childcare allowances, building and maintaining such childcare centres, and even annual industrial building allowances. Companies can also arrange short-term daycare placements with daycares near the office and children’s waiting areas.
- Provide nursing rooms for mothers to comfortably express and store breastmilk. Refer to best practices on establishing lactation rooms here.
Trust and Empathy
- Train managers and co-workers to respect boundaries while their colleagues are on leave or during non-working hours. Two-way communication on deadlines and deliverables is critical.
Resources for Working Parents
- Support your employees’ mental wellbeing with confidential counselling avenues, workshops and talks on the different stages of parenting, mentoring programmes, life coaches, internal networks, and other resources. Organisations may put in place employee assistance programmes to provide around-the-clock free advice on personal issues to staff and their families.
- Emphasise diversity and ensure all work/life programmes are viewed from the perspective of parents from different generations.
- Put in place resources and solutions for departments to cover the work of parents out on leave.
makchic has listed 10 companies (and four small enterprises) that have successfully implemented family-friendly policies. These companies were nominated and recommended by respondents, parents and talent strategy leaders surveyed by makchic. Check them out here!
Download the What Working Parents Want – 2020 report below:
Disclaimer: The information presented here was collected and collated before and during the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. Every effort was made to provide accurate and up to date information about the companies surveyed, but we acknowledge that organisations are going through unprecedented challenges and practices or policies are subject to change. We do not guarantee the completeness, timeliness or the results obtained from the use of this information. Views and opinions expressed in the text are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of any other entity or individual.