Nurturing Working Parents:

3 Powerful Solutions for Building a More Inclusive & Supportive Workplace Environment

In the dynamic and competitive landscape of today’s workplaces, acknowledging and accommodating the diverse needs of employees is more important than ever. Among these needs, the transition to parenthood stands as a significant milestone, often accompanied by unique challenges and adjustments. Forward-thinking companies recognise this and are proactively reshaping their organisational cultures to offer more robust support systems for employees navigating the complexities of parenthood.

In a recent webinar online workshop as part of HR Grapevine’s Digital Summit, two of Bright Horizons leading client organisations, global law firm, Clifford Chance and global investment bank, UBS, shared their progressive strategies and initiatives aimed at creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment. Here, we’ve drawn out some of the key insights and actionable advice discussed in the webinar to provide valuable guidance for employers striving to cultivate a workplace culture that embraces and uplifts employees during their momentous journey into parenthood.

Key speakers: Marina Gordon (Investment Advisor, Global Family and Institutional Wealth,Family Matters Network, UBS) and Catherine Ritchie (Wellbeing and People Experience Manager at Clifford Chance), as well as host, Jennifer Liston-Smith (Head of Thought Leadership at Bright Horizons) outlined several practical solutions that organisations can implement to ensure they are meeting the needs of their valuable employees. Let’s take a look…

  1. Parent Transition Coaching & KiT Days

Catherine Ritchie of Clifford Chance spoke persuasively of Parent Transition Coaching playing a pivotal role in aiding employees to feel valued, as well as empowered to balance their professional responsibilities with the joys and demands of parenthood. In recent years, organisations have increasingly acknowledged their employees’ needs for greater work-life balance and demonstrated their commitment to supporting them to achieve this. It’s become imperative for employers to consider the inputs provided to maximise confidence and wellbeing as well as support productivity, ensuring their employees do not feel as though they must choose between work and family.

Particularly during the parental transition, employees benefit greatly from initiatives that smooth the integration of work and family life. Taking parental leave, and starting, or adding to, a family is a big moment that everybody should feel able to celebrate. It can also be a hinge moment in career terms. So, by streamlining the process of transitioning in and out of the workplace and enabling some light touch sense of connection during leave, organisations show a genuine commitment to employee wellbeing. Parent Transition Coaching is also a wonderful catalyst for fostering open communication between employees and their managers, facilitating constructive conversations, and helping both parties to plan ahead.

Similarly, Keep in Touch Days (KiT Days) are another opportunity to underscore an organisation’s commitment to facilitating smooth transitions into parenthood and back into the workplace. Supporting employees to stay connected to their clients and their colleagues is something is of great importance for many parents and has been proved to make all the difference while navigating their return to work.

  1. Formal and Informal Support Networks

Employee networks, however formal or informal, are a great way to provide your organisation with an extra layer of support through important transitional phases and as an ongoing community. They create spaces for employees to connect, share experiences, and support each other through life's challenges. Marina spoke about the Family Matters Network’s initiative at UBS called the Coffee Corner, which serves as an informal platform for employees to engage in roundtable discussions, sharing personal stories and insights. By previewing topics like bereavement, infertility, neurodivergence, and divorce in quarterly newsletters, employees are encouraged to participate and contribute their own experiences. Through helpful volunteers who share their stories and prompt discussions, employees realise that personal topics are not taboo in the workplace. These discussions continue in hybrid format Coffee Corner meetings, allowing both in-person and remote participation – making it inclusive to employees who work flexibly. Here, interviewees provide further context to their stories, leading to discussions on best practices and potential areas for organisational support. Ultimately, the Coffee Corner initiative emphasises that employees are not alone in their challenges and highlights the power of a supportive network within the organisation.

Another, more formal example of a supportive platform that UBS uses is Bright Horizons’ Family Matters network. Our Work+Family Space platform is a customised website created for your employees, giving them access to a range of Bright Horizons Work+Family Solutions that offer practical, emotional and developmental support, plus advice and information on all things work+family related. Including support and help for managers and their working parents. Addressing a range of family-related topics and providing support across different life stages in the form of ‘speak to an expert’ sessions, guides, blogs, timely resource packs, newsletters, and webinars.

  1. Emergency Back-Up Care Services

Bright Horizons Back-Up Care services, offer a lifeline for employees facing unexpected childcare or adult care challenges. Marina, sharing her personal experience, highlighted the programme's versatility in addressing various scenarios, from childhood illnesses to breakdowns in regular care arrangements. For children, the service offers both nanny services for younger children and holiday clubs for older ones, providing a safety net for working parents. Employees can access emergency care at short notice or pre-book for planned gaps in care, such as school holidays ensuring continuity in care arrangements and workplace commitments. Moreover, the service extends its support to adult dependants, offering tailored care solutions for relatives in need, taking stress away from the employee. UBS employees, for example, benefit from this comprehensive support, complemented by educational webinars and a proactive communication plan to increase awareness and utilisation of the service. This initiative, alongside other support mechanisms like emergency leave policies and coaching services, highlights the organisation's commitment to employee wellbeing and work-life balance.

Marina told us, “We know that 100 % of those who have used backup care, provided by Bright Horizons said that it supported their wellbeing. 100 % said that they feel valued by UBS as a result of using and 100 % said they would use the service.”

By prioritising initiatives such as parental transition coaching, emergency backup care and employee networks, leading companies are setting a practical example for fostering a more supportive and inclusive workplace culture. Bright Horizons' role in facilitating these discussions and providing tailored solutions underscores the importance of partnership in advancing employee wellbeing and future-optimised organisational success.

Find out more about our Back-Up Care service, and our award-winning Parental Leave Toolkit