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In Series 2, Episode 6 of HR Insights - The Podcast, our host Emily Ramji speaks to Sofie Ja...
In Series 2, Episode 6 of HR Insights - The Podcast, our host Emily Ramji speaks to Sofie Jacobs, founder of Urban Hatch. Sofie is a clinical midwife and entrepreneur who is redefining parental support strategies for the workplace. Urban Hatch creates and delivers digital support programs designed to help expectant and new parents thrive at home, in clinical care, and at work. This episode focuses on the notion that unhappy parents are bad for business and that organizations need to start rethinking their parental support strategies. Emily and Sofie discuss the importance of support for new parents during this vulnerable time and the pivotal role that line managers play.
Today, parental support within the workplace is still very much lacking. Sofie shares how in most firms parental support is set up to only support the high performers and quite often those employees who aren’t classified in this way are left out of the equation. However, she firmly believes this shouldn’t be the case in our modern society, and parental support should be available to everyone. Line managers play a vital role in providing parental support and are not being given the strategies and tools that are needed to help expectant and new parents in their team. Sofie shares a powerful statistic that two out of three line managers feel ill-equipped to support members in their team, that's the vast majority. Sofie has recognized this and wants to use Urban Hatch as a way to provide leaders with the support they need.
One key problem that Sofie discusses is the lack of awareness within many workplaces of the possible challenges new and expectant parents face. There are many challenges that parents come across during pregnancy, into parental leave, and then returning to work after parental leave. Organizations need to think about how they can provide support during these three phases, putting into place support that is optimized and enhanced in order to create a culture that nurtures, supports, and attracts working parents. Sofie highlights how this can be achieved by looking into cost-effective ways and easy-to-implement tools. Meaning the support can be taken up by the individuals who need it, when they need it, and by their managers too. Returning to Sofie's earlier statistic demonstrating that two out of three line managers feel ill-equipped to support members in their team, she begins to unpack why it is important that organizations and their line managers are fully trained.
It’s important when a parent is feeling slightly vulnerable one day, that their line manager is able to have meaningful, empathetic conversations with them around such topics. This creates a nurturing and supportive culture and employees feel listened to and understood. Sofie set up Urban Hatch in order to create a hub of support that managers could learn from and apply within their own teams. The company offers a variety of different initiatives such as coaching for new and expectant parents to support sessions for line managers, which are all delivered over Zoom. These sessions aim to raise awareness and start conversations around the importance of parental support strategies within the workplace.
This also generates a safe space for people to share their journey and create an organic mentorship/ peer support culture within their teams. As we move back into a more normal way of life, employers need to think of ways they can attract and retain talent. Sofie highlights the benefits implementing parental support strategies has on employee attraction and retention. A key takeaway from this episode is that organizations need to step back and evaluate what policies are in place; how do people feel? How do people behave? Do line managers feel they have the tools and strategies to support their team members? If the answers to these questions are no, then there’s a clear business case to work on getting that support into place. It is important to step back, evaluate and think about the company culture because ultimately giving employees parental leave is not enough anymore, support needs to be added to that.
To listen to the podcast click here, you can connect with Sofie and Emily on LinkedIn, and navigate to their profiles by clicking their names.