We all adopt different social roles in our lives and sometimes it’s difficult to play them all at once. This becomes even harder to do when it comes to the role of an employee and of a parent.
Anyone who has been in a situation where these two areas of life have become competitive knows exactly what I’m talking about. However, at PIXERS we believe that these two roles can be reconciled and even can complement each other. Thanks to a favorable company culture one can be an effective employee, as well as a happy parent.
Modern Company: Stereotypes vs Reality
It is a common belief that startups are companies created by single men — geeks that look like the characters of a popular TV series, Silicon Valley. Their life motto is “Work Hard — Party Hard”, they organize parties and attract press attention by promoting gadgets and software that are the epitome of the lifestyle they praise. If to all this we add a fact that the majority of them is less than forty years old — according to Walter Frick from Harvard Business Review and Quentin Hardy — we’ll get an overall image of a company formed by young single men, fully absorbed with their jobs, who are far from the seriousness of being the head of the family.
Such an image has significantly been transformed by Bryce Rogers, OATV co-founder, who posted the following question on Twitter: “What message does early stage startup culture send to parents with kids? Honest question for those wearing both hats”. It turned out that there are many parents among startup founders and employees, who wanted to share their experiences. You can read about the discussion spurred by Rogers in the Business Insider article. We would like to show you that parenthood can be beneficial both for the employee and for the company if it receives proper support from the board.
Finding the Balance between Work Life & Family Life
Working at a startup may be challenging, but it also has many advantages, which my colleague described in the article 7 Reasons Why It’s Better to Work at a Startup than at a Corporation. One of them is undoubtedly the atmosphere at work and our relations with coworkers. Accordingly, one of PIXERS’ assumptions is to build such a company culture that lets the employees maintain a work-life balance — important parts of such strategy are the families of the employees.
Seemingly, employees who are parents at the same time may seem to be less productive. The necessity to pick up their kids from school at regular hours, absence from the office when they’re sick or the lack of time for additional work after hours may look unfavorably from the employer’s point of view.
Meanwhile, as the recent research conducted by the Research Division Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows, parents are likely to be twice as productive as employees who don’t have kids. This is mainly because children teach time organizing skills. Apart from this, offspring make us expand our sense of responsibility — not only for ourselves but also for the entire family. Children motivate us to grow and achieve the best results at work.
Although employees with kids can’t always actively take part in the company’s social life (especially the nightlife), they are perfectly trained in interpersonal skills. Firstly, they can calmly approach many problems: children can give the toughest endurance lessons. Secondly, they have experience in explaining things for a long time, in a persistent manner. Yet another fact is that they’re more empathetic, because childcare opens them up to the needs of others.
Spending time with kids is also an excellent way to take a break from work and problems related to it. Playing with children requires a lot of attention and imagination, and you can really get into stacking blocks or drawing and painting with them. It’s also a nice way to unwind. This way, we not only spend time with our children, but we are also relaxed and more productive at work. Hence, the best practice for a company that cares about a good work culture is concern for both the atmosphere in the company, and about the fact that employees don’t have to choose between work and family.
Supporting Employees’ Families Pays Off!
Large corporations often provide their employees with additional benefits for family members, because they know that everyone will profit from them. However, a company can express their care for a parent in various different ways, not necessarily with money. It’s worth keeping in mind that even startups’ employees are parents already or they’ll soon become parents, therefore every company should know how to support them. From our own experience at PIXERS, it follows that there are some benefits which working parents always appreciate:
- Flexible working hours — this solution not only allows you to plan your day according to the needs of your family, but also facilitates sharing the responsibilities with your partner/spouse.
- A possibility of working remotely, which makes it easier to combine the responsibilities of a parent and of an employee.
- A possibility of parental leave for both parents. Although laws often regulate this, these principles may look unusual in startups, so it’s worth takinging special note when signing a job contract.
- Toddlers generate quite a lot of expenses so it’s good to take care of the “baby cash” for young parents — even a small amount will be of great support to them.
- The bottom line is to support pregnant women. The truth is that many of them are anxious that they won’t be able to continue their work and to cope with their duties after returning to the office, or that the company will find someone else to replace them. Therefore, it’s very important how we see off our female colleagues going on maternity leave — at PIXERS we try to celebrate it.
Celebrate Family in Your Company Culture
This year, on the occasion of International Children’s Day, we invited all the employees’ children to come to the PIXERS office. It was a perfect opportunity to get to know each other better and see us in slightly different roles than every day — it was also an occasion to simply have fun.
For this special day, we prepared numerous attractions for our little guests, such as: face painting, archery, various sports and giant soap bubbles. Yet, in fact, visiting their parent’s working place is an exciting event for kids, even on ordinary days.
By inviting our kids to work, we help them understand exactly what we do every day. As a result our job ceases to be an abstract place where we disappear for eight hours; it becomes something real, and can even help our children in making their own life choices in the future. Last but not least, every company can serve children as a good example of organizational and work culture, which kids can really notice and appreciate.
In summary , noticing and recognizing the needs of the employees’ families is of great importance both for the atmosphere in the company and for the efficiency of work. Employee-parents nurture a stable work environment and the results they deliver, because they have kids who depend on them. In turn, employers should appreciate the fact that people with children have extra training in the field of organizing their schedule, exercising their patience and answering difficult questions.