Baby GirlAfter having two sons, I thought my third baby, and my first daughter, would be much easier. Granted, my first son was born almost 10 years ago, when I was younger and perhaps had slightly more ability to function without sleep.

On March 27, 2013, my first daughter, Sophia Addison Cooke, was born.  She was a great sleeper from the start – it just wasn’t between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am very often. And it is rather difficult for me to sleep during the workday. 🙂

As a man, I’ve heard of other fathers being able to sleep all night while the mother takes care of the baby. Whether or not that’s still the case (my wife implies it isn’t – I’m not so sure) it’s something that all organizations and managers should take some time to consider in making sure new parents, experienced or otherwise, have the time they need to adjust.

Employees finding their way as new parents are going to have some adjustments to make, and as an employer you should adjust along with them. Why? Because in the years to come, the employees starting families will be Millennials, who will make up nearly 40% of the workforce within the next few years and 75% of the workforce by 2030. There will be a lot of new and inexperienced parents, The friendlier you make your maternal and paternal policies for a workforce that – far more than GenXers and Baby Boomers – expect time for a personal life, the better your talent retention will be.

Here’s my list of how I think businesses can better manage those employees who are new parents:

  • Give new fathers some extra time off and a more flexible working environment for a period of time after the baby is born. When mothers return from leave, do the same and let them ease into their work routines over a month or two.
  • Provide support and understanding. New parents are most likely not going to be as alert as they were previously in the short term, especially since we are seeing more first-time parents in their 30s, and sometimes having their first child in their 40s. Millennials will be having a lot of babies soon!
  • Make telecommuting a policy, rather than an exception, for at least one to two days a week if you have an office environment.
  • Be flexible – consider providing half days on Fridays and/or Mondays for the first month that a new parent comes back to work.

Sure, I know the work needs to get done and these flexible policies may seem to make that more difficult. Try it – you will be surprised. With most employees, flexibility is a two-way street. If you treat them fairly and understand their situations, most will return the flexibility and will be more willing – and able, with the breaks and flexibility you give them – to do, and do well, what you need them to do. And they will appreciate the work culture and environment you have created.

Of course, there will be some occasional problems and people who try to take advantage. But your managers and HR staff can take care of those situations through good policy and training. Those cases will be the exception and not an excuse for continuing the parent-unfriendly ways of many workplaces of the past.

Flexibility with new parents is good business, especially for the new and fast-changing millennial-centric workforce of today and tomorrow.

Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company's growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company's global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike's tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.

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