Seeing children around the workplace can be very difficult for employees facing problems with infertility or who may have lost a child. So should HR introduce 'children in the workplace' policies? And how could these cater to the needs of employees with and without children?
Inge Woudstra, D&I consultant at W2O Consulting & Training, says:
"Some people feel having children in the workplace distracts from the business. Others face infertility issues and prefer not to be confronted with reminders at work. So start a dialogue, create clarity and introduce guidelines or a policy.
"I believe bringing a child to work is part of bringing your whole self to work. For many parents it helps them bond with their colleagues. For many new parents, especially new mothers, it helps to introduce their colleagues to their new lives. And for children it’s great to see where Mum or Dad disappears to for most of the day and to experience their ‘work’ life.
"That said, there should be boundaries. Work is not childcare. It’s not appropriate to bring a child to work and let them play in the boardroom all day while you take calls. And it is also considerate to notify colleagues in advance; to make sure the timing is appropriate and so that anyone who might prefer to avoid the situation has notice to be able to do so."
Mandy Coalter, director of people at United Learning, says:
"We need a sensible and sensitive approach to this. Having a baby is a major milestone in life and it is good that colleagues are able to share the joy of that with each other.
"However, life can and does throw up challenges, and employees with infertility issues may struggle with this celebration. I do not believe that the answer lies in a policy that could end up making everyone feel uncomfortable. We should focus on creating a sensitive culture where managers handle these issues carefully and employees feel comfortable talking about how they feel. This is a sensible solution to ensure these visits are planned in advance so that any concerns can be dealt with.
"We all have joy and challenges in our lives and good employers that care about employee wellbeing recognise that. Let’s also not forget the many challenges women with children face with working life. It’s about creating a workplace that supports everyone."
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