The other day CODA, our DE&I Council was joined by Ginger as well as Our House, Working Families ERG for a panel discussion to help our company's parents and those that lead them. Here are some themes and suggestions that emerged during the conversation.
Being a parent provides us with some of life’s most precious moments, but it also can present challenging ones as well. For working parents, juggling responsibilities at home with a career can certainly be stressful. As we approach another school year and many working parents transition back to the office, the family dynamic may be changing once again!
Being a leader of working parents can also be challenging. There are things to do, and deadlines to meet. The productivity of those you lead is of utmost importance to reach company goals. Personal life used to be left at the office door, but everything is different now. Today, inclusion and empathy for the whole person are essential ingredients for building trusting teams who can reach company goals.
Our panel, including a counselor, a psychologist and our own group leaders, fielded questions such as:
- How do I handle the guilt of working while also trying to be a good parent? It makes me sad that I can't spend more time with my children.
- Between work and raising children, I struggle to find time for myself (exercise, socializing or simply just relaxing). What advice do you have to help me find a little more balance that includes self-care?
- As a manager, how can I best support my working parent associates that need to get their children on the bus but also need to be at work?
- As a Manger, what is the best way to encourage my working parents to take their PTO and encourage them to disconnect from work?
- What is the best approach for dividing the tasks and responsibilities of raising children with my spouse/partner?
- As a parent, I feel disconnected from my kids due to technology and other factors. What advice do you have to better connect with my children?
Throughout the panel conversation, common themes became clear quickly.
Communication is a must. Whether talking to your kids about the responsibilities of your work, listening to them to foster a deeper connection, or communicating with a manager to help them understand the necessities and challenges of parenthood, communication trumps all.
Another theme was intentionality. When we participate in our day with intentionality, purpose, and focus, the outcomes and relationships are typically positive. For example, when we make time to play with our children without also trying to read a work email, the child's experience will be a richer one (as will ours). It has been shown that multitasking is impossible. It is intentionality that allows us to be more productive and certainly more present in every case.
Give yourself grace was a theme that came up over and over. For parents, it is an understanding that nothing is perfect, but that doesn't mean failure. For those leading working parents, we must foster a culture of grace as well. When we foster trusting teams within our organization, we build connection. It is that connection that supercharges productivity. Ultimately, it isn't the hours in a day that count, it's what is done in the hours that are available.
When we asked the panel for any final comments, here's what our Ginger panelist, Natasha, had to say: "Carve out [even] 5 minutes a day to do something that is just for you. You'll be a better caregiver if you are taking care of you!". Corey, a panel member from SAS Retail Services, offered two things that were tops for him: Intentionality and giving yourself permission [grace].
We thank CODA for hosting Our House and Ginger and for everyone participating in such an information-rich session.
Ginger is mental support including behavioral health coaching, therapy, psychiatry and self-care resources that all SAS Retail Associates have access to through their smartphone app.
Our House, Working Families ERG is a company employee resource group that supports our company's working families. It offers support tools and information to the jugglers and multitaskers caring for their families.
Here, every SAS associate is welcome. And when we say everyone, we mean EVERYONE. This is our reason for creating CODA — to Celebrate Our Diverse Associates. As a CODA community, one of our goals is to break down barriers. We want everyone to interact. This is an opportunity to connect with someone different than you, whether that’s where they are from, how they grew up, where they’ve traveled or that they speak different languages. Our hope is that these connections create new relationships, shape common interests and offer opportunities that otherwise may be missed.