Seven great employers for single parents

Being a single parent is made even harder my an inflexible work schedule. These seven employers will help worker with you to make sure you can meet your professional and parental goals.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Young generation Y single mom Lena Bushrod raises her daughter, Alaina Inman (2012).

Building a career is challenging enough. If you're a single parent? You're working even harder. It's no easy task to manage that work-life balance. How do you give both your children and your career the attention they deserve?

You can start by working at a company that actually respects the concept of a work-life balance. And if you're a single parent, it helps to work for a company that allows employees to work at least part-time from home, provides flexible scheduling, and offers on-site daycare.

Fortunately, there are companies like this. Here is a list — in no particular order and compiled from some of the most respected work-life rankings available — of the companies that single parents should target.

1. IBM

This venerable tech company based in Armonk, New York, has been featured on Working Mother Magazine's "100 Best Companies" list for all 30 years that the magazine has run this feature. The company's work-life benefits — key for single parents — are a big reason.

IBM offers parents subsidized daycare options and provides a 529 plan that parents can tap to save money for their children's college educations. IBM also offers financial counseling and college coaching to its employees, something that can help single parents trying to juggle budgeting, raising children, and furthering their education.

2. General Mills

The food-manufacturer based in Minneapolis is also a mainstay of Working Mother Magazine's list. According to the magazine's 2015 list, General Mills offers job-sharing, telecommuting, and flexible schedules to its employees. This is important to single parents hoping to work around at least some of their children's extracurricular activities or who want to drop their children off at school each morning.

Not all employees take advantage of these flexible working hours. But Working Mother Magazine reported in its 2015 list that 63% of employees do rely on flexible scheduling and telecommuting at least some of the time.

New parents at General Mills are given the choice to reduce their working hours for up to eight weeks as they return to work after maternity or paternity leave.

3. Colgate-Palmolive

In 2015, Forbes worked with employment site Indeed to create a list of the 25 best companies for work-life balance. New York City-based Colgate-Palmolive, famous for its toothpaste and dish soaps, topped the list. Benefits that appeal to single parents are a major reason why.

The company offers tuition assistance to parents who want to earn degrees that will help them further support their children. It also offers onsite childcare and free legal and financial counseling to employees. When single parents have to move, they can ease at least some of the stress by taking advantage of Colgate-Palmolive's relocation assistance.

4. SAS Institute

You might not have heard of SAS Institute — the Cary, North Carolina company is a software analytics company, but this employer has become a favorite of workers. In 2013, Fast Company Magazine featured SAS in a story headlined "How SAS Became the World's Best Place to Work," and employment site Glassdoor ranked SAS highly in its most recent "Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance" list.

Of particular interest to single parents? SAS leaders don't focus needlessly on the amount of hours that employees spend in the office. In fact, the company operates a 35-hour work week. This doesn't mean that employees only work 35 hours. Many choose to work more. But for single parents, the option to work fewer hours is a tempting one, making it far easier to shuttle kids around and attend band concerts.

SAS also offers discounted child care, an onsite healthcare clinic, onsite gym for parents who want a de-stressing workout, and free work-life counseling for those struggling to juggle their roles as single parents and employees.

5. Wegmans Food Markets

Supermarket chains don't always have stellar reputations when it comes to parent-friendly benefits. Wegmans Food Markets, based in Rochester, New York, is the exception.

Fortune Magazine ranked Wegmans seventh on its 2015 list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For." It's an especially good place for single parents who want to return to college to boost their earning potential. Wegmans provides tuition assistance for both its full and part-time employees, according to Fortune.

The supermarket chain also covers 85% to 100% of the health care costs of its employees and their dependents, a huge benefit for single parents worried about covering their children's medical bills. And for those who want to spend more time at home when their children are actually awake? Wegmans offer flexible working hours.

6. Quicken Loans

ComputerWorld in 2015 ranked Detroit-based mortgage lender Quicken Loans as the best place for IT workers. That's a heady honor, but Quicken Loans is actually a great place for anyone to work, especially single parents.

Just look at the benefits that single parents can tap: Those who have adopted will earn a $5,000 adoption benefit and 10 days of paid leave. Quicken offers all of its workers 26 days of annual paid holiday and vacation leave after one year of service, and provides 90 days of job-protected maternity leave.

The lender also provides onsite child care, telecommuting options, and flexible scheduling.

7. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

The hospitality industry is another that doesn't have a reputation for providing top benefits. Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is an exception, according to Fortune Magazine, which ranked the hotel chain as one of its best places to work for 2015.

According to Fortune, Four Seasons provides 30 days of protected maternity leave for new parents and offers 19 days of holiday and vacation days each year to employees who have worked at the company for at least one year.

For single parents who need to work flexible hours, Four Seasons offers compressed work weeks (employees can work more hours in a shorter number of days), telecommuting, and flexible work schedules. Those parents without cars can receive subsidized public transportation to and from work.

This article first appeared at Wise Bread.

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