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Debunking Common Misconceptions: Parents In The Workplace

Debunking Common Misconceptions: Parents In The Workplace

Being a parent is tough. Whether you work full time, part time, from home, or not at all, it’s still hard. The many myths about parents circulating through the workplace it only make it harder. However, working parents make some of the best employees and leaders.

Here’s a guide to some of the most common misconceptions about parents at work and why they’re not true.

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Parents need more accommodations than other employees.

Asking for accommodations or flexible schedules is not unique to working parents only. I’ve worked with men that negotiated all air travel needs to be booked in business class or higher due to injuries. I’ve worked with twenty-somethings that requested to work a four day schedule so they could go back to school part time or pursue a volunteer opportunity. I’ve seen older adults in the workplace scale back their schedules so that they can spend more time at home with their significant others or to care for an ailing parent. Almost everyone has to cut out of the office every now and again for a doctor’s appointment or other personal matters.

Accommodations and flexible schedules seem to be synonymous with working parents, but in reality, they are not. Nearly every type of employee takes advantage (and is thankful) of accommodations in the workplace that allow work-life integration.

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Parents aren’t committed to their jobs.

This one is really surprising because it’s quite the contrary. There is actually strong evidence that parents are more committed to their jobs than many other employees. Traditionally, companies have rewarded men who become fathers with the “fatherhood bonus”, usually resulting in about a 6% increase in salary. Once you become a family man, you’re viewed as more dependable and more committed to your job since you now have to provide for a family. Women, on the other hand, experience the “motherhood penalty”, and many earn 4% less per child than they would have if they had remained childless. It’s based on the assumption that they are more distracted or will work less. However, working parents are some of the most efficient, focused employees out there. The constant juggle of managing a career with family commitments makes them well-equipped to prioritize and really be strategic about utilizing resources. Furthermore, parents are less likely to job hop than other employees. Stability is key when raising a family and the challenges associated with transitioning to a new work place or relocating are only considered when absolutely necessary.

Parents aren’t good team members.

Since parents have after-hours commitments, when they need to leave the office at 5 or aren’t able to come in before 9, most people think that the singletons on the team need to make up for it. In today’s technology embracing world, this is hardly the case. While many parents do limit their physical “in office” hours, most spend time on weekends, early mornings, and after work working. Limiting hours in the office isn’t unique to parents, many people with long commutes or global work spend only core hours in the office and complete a lot of their work at home before or after-hours. Besides, parents aren’t the only employees to take vacations. All team members usually have to cover for each other. Parents may be more inclined to take vacation during major holidays due to children’s school schedules, but putting programs in place that rotate vacation time periods during different holidays can help make sure that no one has to endure year after year with no time off during their favorite holiday.

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Don’t forget, parent’s are hugely efficient at scoping out job needs and responsibilities and getting work done timely – and usually within business hours. These skills can help any team be more productive.

Parents are at work only out of financial necessity.

Why would anyone want to leave their children behind and come to the workplace if they didn’t have to? Actually, a lot of people. Caring for children is a wonderful experience, but everyone needs a break. Many parents that pursued careers prior to becoming parents may still be interested in their field of work, finding the work intellectually stimulating and interesting. Sometimes, you need to connect with other adults and feel current in a world that doesn’t revolve around child rearing. Money is nice, and may be a main motivating factor for many people, but it’s certainly not the only reason that parents are there.

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The one issue that leaves parents at a significant disadvantage in the workplace is addressing last minute needs or a crisis that may crop up towards the end of the workday. This has little to do with anyone’s capability to deal with the issue, but more to do with the structure of childcare available for working parents. Most parents simply can’t extend their childcare past a certain hour without advance notice. While this may be challenging, I’d highly encourage dual working families to try to stay flexible and the parents help each other if one is experiencing an office fire towards the end of the day.

Alternatively, you could tackle the challenge by responding to the team with, “I’d like to take a few hours to evaluate this further. If it’s urgent enough, let’s plan a call tonight to review next steps, otherwise, we’ll regroup in the morning.” Most employees don’t want to be on a 9pm call and you’ll probably be able to restart in the morning.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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