It’s true what they say: it takes a village to raise a child. Even if a single parent raises their child on their own, they will still need the assistance of the community around them. Support from friends, other family members, local single parent groups, places of worship, and others can be sources of help.
What about the situation of single parents inside the workplace? How can companies support them?
As of June 2022, there are one million single-parent families across Australia, which accounts for 14.2 per cent of all the families in the country. And about 82.8 per cent of this number are single mum families. These families need support, particularly single mum families.
Unfortunately, among single parent families with dependants, about 162,000 are jobless. At least 89 per cent of these single parent families had children aged 15 below. This equates to an estimated 276,000 aged 0-14 children in these single parent families.
Companies must acknowledge that single parent, particularly single mum, families must be supported.
In an interview with Harvard Business Review, solo parent, and journalist Tanzina Vega said that a lot of organisations still assume that all parents are in couples, so there’s that assumption that the parent will there be at home.
“Companies have to acknowledge there are unique issues that single parents will run into,” said Vega.
How your organisation can support single parents
Single parents often experience stress and burnout because of the demands given to them by managers and bosses. To ease their burnout, organisations can do the following:
Hire and promote single parents
During the pandemic, many single mums were forced out of their companies. Organisations must try to re-hire them, as well as find a way to measure their work and opportunity for promotion without penalising them for the childcare they had to provide during the pandemic.
Create an inclusive company culture
How you advertise matters. Don’t default to using “for couples” or urge people to “bring couples.” What you can use is the phrase “Plus ones are welcome.” Additionally, managers must not assume that single parents do not want travel assignments. The best thing to do is to ask them.
Set boundaries and time for rest
During the pandemic, single mums simply worked more, which led to burnout. Companies can reinforce paid time off policies for single parents, ensuring that they have time away from work.
Help with childcare
Companies should create policies that provide childcare for their employees. This way, when single parents can’t be there for their children, they can be sure that they can be take care of.
Support public policies for single parents
On a systemic level, companies can support efforts to change public policies that have constraints on single parents.
A study of single mums in Australia in the pandemic found that single mums experienced less stress and anxiety than partnered mums “because of the support that the government provided in offering direct aid and keeping childcare and school options open,” said sociologist Liana Sayer.
At the end of the day, companies must create policies that support single parent families. Assistance from different places, such as family members, friends, the government, and companies could go a long way.