This month, MCV/DEVELOP looks into the struggles of juggling a work/life balance as a parent, and the surprisingly positive effects of being a working parent
More often than not we talk about work and parenting in a negative context, such as how difficult it can be to juggle home and professional life.
But new research has highlighted that there can in fact be profound positive effects associated with bringing up a family while continuing with a chosen career path, for both men and women.
The data, from a global survey conducted by Talking Talent, revealed that 20 per cent of parents actually feel better prepared for a busy work life after having kids, 44 per cent cited improved time management and organisational skills, while 39 per cent said they had become better managers of people. Improved leadership skills also came out strongly, with 38 per cent of respondents saying they had experienced a positive change in that skillset after starting a family.
The findings are all the more interesting in the context of last month’s column, which dealt with issues associated with maternity leave, such as keeping in touch days and welcoming staff back who had been away for a period of time.
Confidence is very much a hot topic for women, regardless of industry, and this shows in the research — 37 per cent of women thought that increased self-confidence would significantly help their career progression now that they had become a working parent; this was compared to 23 per cent of men.
In fact, for men, the only skill set which appeared to be negatively affected by having children was networking, with 21 per cent saying that their skills had diminished. That’s compared to 25 per cent of women, which the report’s authors attributed to reduced opportunities for out-of-hours socialising.
This is borne out by the fact that almost half of working dads (48 per cent) said that their networking skills had improved, while just 24 per cent of working mums said the same.
A slight aberration regarding networking aside, the data suggests that rather than being an obstacle to overcome, employers should view staff returning from maternity or paternity leave as an opportunity to grasp.
Greater flexibility in working patterns to accommodate parents is always great, but it’s clear there are actual tangible benefits for businesses stemming from the life skills gained as a result of bringing a new-born into the world.
CoSec & Talent Director, nDreams
“I was pregnant when we founded nDreams so I know the challenges involved with work and family life. Parenthood can give a different perspective – we’re shaped by our life’s journey. If that means greater skills at organisation and multi-tasking then great, let’s harness it! But let’s also recognise there could be additional pressures we should support… Enabling working parents to attend school assemblies and sports days without guilt leads to a happier workforce, which can lead to better productivity. Your company’s approach to work/life balance makes a big difference and will ultimately impact your ability to retain talented staff who happen to have family commitments.”