Creating Flexible Work And Supportive Workplace Culture for Single Parents.

During this recent pandemic, many single parents were forced out of the workforce,  had to cut back hours of work, or rethink their work options under the weight of workplace closures, home schooling.  These have been challenging times for those if us solo parenting.

The pandemic, if little else,  has shown clearly what working parents, especially single parents, have struggled with for years: Child care is not optional for working single parents, and addressing childcare needs for those in shiftwork, is paramount.

Working Solutions challenges Australian businesses to make an effort to not only hire single parents, but find a way to honour their true value to the workplace, without loss of access and promotional opportunities.  Old measures of an ideal worker or ideal employee, such as  ‘availability’, ‘works overtime’, ‘takes work home’ are historically favourable key performance measures, disadvantage workers with caregiving responsibilities (particularly single parents).  They are seen as holding less business value because they cannot ‘over provide’ their contributions in the workplace.

Working Solutions challenges businesses to design work systems and processes that recognise all workers have care responsibilities and family demands outside of work.  If your business uses artificial intelligence or algorithms to sort through resumes based on notions of  “ideal worker,” it’s time for change  – re-program algorithms to allow for factors such as childcare disruptions, particularly for single parents.

Workplace culture needs an overhaul –  Managers should not be allowed to assume single parents don’t have a career plan, they should be afforded the opportunity to openly discuss how their role can progress within the business and what kind of supports right be needed to meet these goals.   In developing employee welfare policies,  single parents should be able to acknowledge short-term family challenges that may need a work around, without fear of dismissal or negative performance evaluations..

Stop Normalising Overworking – Work Creatively and Flexibly.

Help single parents to fulfil sustainable work lives that allow for quality family life.  At the end of the day, it is not just single parent families that will rise above significant challenges, but the economy and community as a whole will benefit from their contribution and experience.