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Becoming a parent boosts work performance

While parents feel their competence improves after having children, employers still focus on the challenges of balancing work and family life

Two in five (20%) working parents report being better equipped to handle a busy workload after having a child, according to research from Talking Talent.

Parents also reported improved time management and personal organisation skills (44%), resilience (41%) and the ability to look after their personal wellbeing (40%).

Parenthood also enhanced working parents’ people management skills. Thirty-five per cent reported increased gravitas, with 37% citing a boost to their confidence in having difficult conversations and 39% to their ability to manage people. They also felt they had more influence (39%) and better leadership skills (38%).

There were some gender discrepancies, however. Only one in three new mothers (32%) reported an increase in confidence on their return to work after parental leave, compared to nearly half (46%) of new fathers. Almost half of working fathers (48%) also said that their networking skills had improved, though less than a quarter of working mothers (24%) said the same.

Chris Parke, co-founder and CEO of Talking Talent, said many employers are too quick to focus on the struggles of being a working parent. “By focusing too closely on the inherent challenges of being a working parent we become distracted from the transferrable skills that parents naturally develop,” he said.

"Our research shows that many new parents see increased ability in a number of transferable skills that help them progress in the workplace. New mothers and fathers need to think about how parenthood has helped to improve their performance and use this to their advantage.”

Speaking to HR magazine, associate professor in organisational psychology at Dublin City University Yseult Freeney said that parents have a wealth of skills, but it’s up to employers to make the most of them. “There’s no doubt that parents can offer a great deal of skills, knowledge and experience to their jobs. They are often incredibly resilient and possess excellent time management," she said.

“However, we can’t ignore the issues that many working parents face when returning to work after having children. Our own research previously showed that even high-potential employees experience a number of barriers with career progression. To make sure they are helping working parents reach their full potential employers must focus on how they treat mothers and fathers who return to work, avoid stereotypes, and normalise parenthood in the workplace.”

Employers must make sure they have the right policies in place to nurture the skills and value parents bring, added Sarah-Jane Butler, CEO and founder of Parental Choice. "Better time management, resilience, improved management skills and concentrated focus are all skills inherent in working parents that can greatly benefit businesses," she said.

"These skills need to be recognised, encouraged and supported by companies looking at the long-term goal. Instilling policies and benefits that underpin those skills reduces recruitment costs and increases goodwill and productivity. The skills that working parents bring to the workplace should not be underestimated or dismissed, but protected."

Talking Talent surveyed 1,023 working parents.

Further reading

CIPD launches parents returners programme

Working maternity discrimination rife

Single parents an overlooked source of talent

Are employers to blame for low SPL uptake?