6 ways SMEs can support flexible working for parents

5 min read  |   31 January, 2023   By Aimée Brougham-Chandler

A man works from home on a laptop. Two children are either side of him, one is clambering on him. A cat is also on the table.

86% of small organisations report that at least three quarters of their employees are working flexibly, compared to just 28% pre-pandemic, according to research by Working Families.

However, 2 in 5 working parents planned to move jobs in 2022, according to a poll.

So it seems there's still a way to go before working parents can receive the support & flexibility they need across the board. 

In this blog, we look at the different ways SME employers can support working parents and increase equality. 

6 ways employers can support flexible working for parents

Employers play a vital role in creating choice & opportunity for working parents through flexible working, and this is also a key step towards gender equality. 

69% of working parents feel they've been able to be more involved with their children's lives due to flexible working, research by KinderCare reports. 

Here are 6 ways SME employers can support working parents:


    1. Challenge stigmas around flexible working

      Try and break down social norms (or lack of them) attached to men requesting flexible working to care for children.

      Actively promote your flexible working policy and make it clear this is designed to support everyone with caring responsibilities.

    2. Demonstrate and celebrate 

      Show examples of people who are working flexibly, effectively and productively. Move away from a culture of presenteeism and focus on output.

    3. Identify senior flexible working role models 

      Ask colleagues in senior positions to talk about how flexible working works for them. 

      The Working Families 2022 benchmark report found that 70% of part-time senior managers in organisations surveyed are women. This shows the importance of flexible working allowing for career progression. 

    4. Actively promote company policies 

      Make sure employees are aware of policies related to flexible working and Shared Parental Leave. This legislation was introduced to provide partners the legal right to divide parental responsibilities, as well as paid time off work.

    5. Can roles be made more flexible?

      Can any existing roles be made more flexible? Do your employees have the choice to work from home, or to start/finish later, for example? 

      Also consider how flexibility can apply to new roles. Timewise research found that just 22% of 'quality' jobs are advertised as flexible. 

    6. Bring your policies in line with the government’s Good Work Plan

      This is a set of proposals which encourages businesses to improve workforce equality by advertising all jobs as flexible from ‘day one’. 

      The right to flexible working from day one of employment is being implemented by the government. 

Resources to support working parents

It's so important support working parents and help them to balance family life with their career goals.

We know that flexible working improves productivity, so businesses benefit too. 

Working Families is the national charity for UK working parents and carers, offering advice for parents, carers and employers, along with published research. 

ACAS offers advice on flexible working, along with time off work for parents

Find out how Breathe can help you streamline your HR admin with a free 14-day trial.


Author: Aimée Brougham-Chandler

An IDM-certified Digital Copywriter as of February 2023, Aimée is Breathe's Content Assistant. With a passion for guiding readers to solutions for their HR woes, she enjoys delving into & demystifying all things HR: From employee performance to health and wellbeing, leave to company culture & much more.

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