Shaking the guilt for working parents

Mar 22, 2023
Shaking the guilt for working parents

Being a working parent is not an easy task. The ongoing battle between work and parenting means often parents find themselves feeling guilty, and unable to serve equal justice to their career or parenting. Whether it’s the guilt of rushing the morning routine to start work earlier or passing work to a colleague as we leave to pick-up our children, there is a struggle to find the optimal balance between the two worlds.

“For mothers in a client-servicing role, the biggest challenge is often balancing the needs of children and clients – both of which can at times come before your own. It’s easy to feel guilty that you never truly satisfy either.”

-Leah Peyton, Director and Healthcare Lead, Ruder Finn UK.

This balancing act between career demands and being a present parent can lead to working mums feeling inadequate and stressed. These negative feelings can impact work productivity and often, women will opt to leave the workforce bringing their careers to a halt. At a time when resignations, particularly amongst working women, are at a record high, understanding the link between parenting and performance at work is highly relevant. It is important to alleviate the struggle of all parents and help keep talented women in the workforce.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shifted the mindset of many employers who were once reluctant to allow hybrid working and flexible hours. In fact, a study conducted in 2021 showed that a third of UK employers agreed that working from home has boosted the productivity of their employees.

The Public Relations (PR) industry is often associated with working long and unsociable hours, making it not the most ‘family-friendly’ career, however, it doesn’t have to be this way. Many communications agencies today recognise the benefits of hybrid working and flexible hours, providing working parents with options to help balance work and parenting.

But should communications agencies be doing more to help support working parents? A report by the Center for Creative Leadership showed that empathy is the most important leadership skill. Demonstrating empathy in the workplace is positively related to job performance and can lead to more effective communication and positive outcomes, in both work and home environments.

“When it comes to working parents, workplaces should show support in the form of empathy and understanding. Whether you need to pick up your sick child from school, want to see their first school performance or be present at sports day, there should be room for flexibility in working hours to allow for this to happen.”

-Anna Hennessy, Deputy Managing Director, Mantis PR.

Although more support is available today than ever before, having an employer that demonstrates empathy and trust in the workplace can reduce stress amongst working parents, and provide them with a better balance between work and parenting.

At Ruder Finn UK and Mantis PR, 34% of our people are working parents, with many working mums in senior leadership positions. Here’s how some of our Ruder Finn and Mantis mums balance their time between work and parenting:

“I work part-time and that really helps. I’ve had to learn how to be better organised at home, so I know who’s doing what, when, and what they need, far ahead. I write loads of reminder notes and leave them all over the house where I can’t ignore them!”

-Emma Morton, Media Strategist, Ruder Finn UK

“Working single motherhood is hard and I’m still trying to get the balance right. But I learnt quickly that you need a good support network behind you – both in work and at home. Boundaries are also key and some days you just accept that sometimes you will send your child to school in an Ancient Greek costume on the wrong day! It only takes a week for everyone to see the funny side of that!”

-Bryony Cox, Senior Account Director, Mantis PR

Ruder Finn offers all people hybrid working, flexible hours and enhanced maternity packages*. If you would like to find out more about our benefits and our commitment to all our people, please contact Alison Denham, [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!

* Subject to length of service.

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