With the Government announcing plans for a new childcare subsidy scheme last month, worth up to a whopping £2,000 per child, the topic of working parents has been hotly debated over the last few weeks. Keen to get more parents back to work, David Cameron and his chums clearly see the benefit of having mothers and fathers in the workplace, but it’s a sad fact that individuals with children are often considered ‘risky’ when hiring new employees. With that in mind, we’ve come up with five simple reasons why parents can be a boost to your existing work force.
Whether you’re trying to resolve a difference between employees, or settle the terms of a new supplier contract, it’s certainly handy to have an employee around who knows how to keep the peace and harmony – and there’s nobody with better negotiation skills than a parent. With peacekeeping skills akin to a member of the UN, parents are used to talking toddlers down from public and embarrassing tantrums, bargaining with defiant children and bringing headstrong teenagers round to their way of thinking. Managing to show empathy while staying firm, you can count on them to save you some money on the stationary order, repair frazzled employee relations and make Angela from accounts smile again. All while making your tea.
Used to scheduling their days with play-dates, nursery visits, school runs and after-school clubs, parents have to be at the top of their game when it comes to time management. As an employee, their timekeeping will be accurate to the minute and they’ll know exactly how to get the most out of their working days. Used to having multiple personal deadlines to contend with, they’ll be able to organise their days to maximise their productivity. Not only that, but they’ll automatically be able to prioritise tasks according to importance, and stay calm whilst doing so. Oh, and procrastination? Not on their watch.
Stamina and Willingness
A typical working day is seven-and-a-half hours, possibly more if overtime is offered, or deadlines are due. A typical parents day is anywhere between sixteen and twenty-four hours; there are no lunch breaks, no sick days, no annual leave and all overtime is compulsory and unpaid. If there’s one thing a parent will almost certainly bring to your workplace, it’s stamina. Used to standing on their feet for twelve hours on the trot, nothing will phase them. Overtime? That’s fine. A working lunch to get that report finished on time? No problem. Coming in early to prepare for a meeting? No worries. They’ll just be happy to be able to eat a sandwich without someone tugging at their sleeve, and declaring they’ve done a number-two on the floor.
Organisation and Planning
If there’s one thing employment and parenting have in common, it’s that to be successful at either, you need to be organised. Used to juggling dental appointments, school holidays, childcare and social activities, a parent will make full use of diaries, planners and mobile apps designed to organise their lives. In the workplace, they’ll be forward thinkers, and will be ideal for organising meetings, team building events and most importantly, the Christmas party – you can rely on them to sort out everything from the stationary order to the Secret Santa draw.
The day you have children is the day you lose all entitlement to even attempt to do just one thing at once.The rest of your life is spent trying to contain a wriggling baby while placating an irate toddler, at the same time as answering the telephone, replying to an email and cooking dinner. While they might not be expected to prepare any meals, parents will bring the same multitasking skills to the workplace; you’ll often find them replying to emails, juggling multiple telephone calls, arranging a meeting and booking a conference room all at the same time. And they’ll have already made your morning coffee, as well.
Parents often get a bit of a bad deal in the workplace; wrongly considered unreliable, they’re often passed over for employees with no children, despite the fact that they have some of the most desirable key skills for the office. Next time you’re hiring, pay more attention to the parent candidates, as it’s quite likely that they could bring a great deal of positivity to the workplace – that, and they’ll be able to organise a cracking Christmas party.