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There are three critical ingredients your working parents really want from their work: how many are you delivering?

If you were going to ask yourself today to explain what motivates people at work, beyond the basics, what would it look like? Perhaps an image of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is cropping up. 

Knowing what your people are motivated by is important. Not only so that they have a brilliant employee experience and enjoy their place of work, but for you to ensure that you are attracting and retaining your best talent, avoiding expensive attrition costs and positioning yourself as an employer of choice. 

So what really matters to your working parents?

A Harvard Business Review explains that it boils down to the three Cs: Career, Community and Cause.

Career, Community and Cause make up what is known as ‘the psychological contract’ and they must be present if you want to keep hold of your people.

Let's have a look at what each one means for your working parents:

1. Career... about having a job that provides employees with autonomy, allows them to use their strengths, and promotes their learning and development. It is at the heart of intrinsic motivation. Your working parents want to be able to influence how they work, where they work and have agency over the kind of work they are doing. They need to know that their job will adapt and evolve as their home lives become more complex. 

2. Community... about people. Feeling respected, cared about and recognised by others. It has undertones of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and drives their sense of connection and belongingness. Your working parents want to know that they will not be forgotten about when they take parental leave, that they are included and involved whether they work part time or full time hours, and that they can bring their whole authentic selves to work each day. 

3. Cause... about purpose and a feeling that your employees are making a meaningful impact. They want to be able to identify with the organisation's mission, understanding and connecting with the WHY. Believing that they contribute to some greater good for the world and have a sense of pride in all that they do. You are borrowing your working parents from their lives to work for you – they need to know that they are doing something meaningful that is worth being away from their children for. 

If you want to ensure that you attract, and retain, the best talent you will need to place a greater focus on the needs of your employees, including working parents.

In the past it was pretty normal for companies to build entire cultures around just one aspect of the psychological contract.

You could recruit, motivate, and retain people by promising a great career, or a close-knit community, or a meaningful cause.

When I work with parents who have left their companies during parental leave it's normally because one of the Cs has been overlooked. Perhaps their career progression has stalled, or they no longer felt part of the team. Or maybe they now want their work to be even more meaningful if it means leaving their bundle of joy at home.

Your next steps

You can de-risk the likelihood of this attrition by tapping into my expertise of supporting new parents through this transition, and introducing further support for your parental leavers and returners so that they don’t slip through the net.

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