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Single, working parents: I salute you!

“I believe you get the best out of your people by giving them support and understanding.” - Sam

‘Tricky’, is the word Sam King uses to describe balancing her role as a single parent to five year old Ava, with her full-time position as a Product Manager in Institutional Banking at ANZ.


“Being a parent, as anyone who is one would know, is a challenge in itself. Navigating school holidays and breaks from day care can be a juggle,” Sam says. “As a single parent, with the majority of family and friends overseas in New Zealand it can be even more, tricky.”


According to Census data, in 2016 the number of single parent families in Australia was 959,543 with 81.8 per cent of this comprised of the female population.


Moreover, in the preceding five years to the 2016 Census, the total number of single-parent families has been on the rise increasing by more than 50,000.


Taking into consideration this kind of staggering statistic, what role should flexibility in the workplace play when it comes to empathy and support for our people so they’re able to bring their best selves to work on a daily basis?


For the past few years while managing her career and family life, Sam has saved up the four weeks of annual leave accrued over the course of the year. “The last block of leave I used, I took six weeks off – four weeks of annual leave and two weeks of long service leave,” she explains.


 “We took time off for the holidays.  It was Ava’s birthday during that time and it was also just before she started school. So it was really important for me to be there before she went on that journey,” she says. 


There’s no doubting the unconditional love and devotion that exists between these two. You only need to take a quick glance at Sam’s Instagram account to see a beautiful, ever-changing face - from tiny, innocent newborn, to cheeky toddler, sassy little pre-schooler and now a proud, independent school girl.


Flexibility is key


As any working parent could attest to, managing a school schedule and career is a juggling act that would put a Cirque Du Soleil performer to the test. So has Sam utilised flexible working arrangements at ANZ in the past?


“Yes definitely,” she responds quickly. “Currently, I work three standard eight hour days in the office and then the other couple of days I attend school pick up and log back on to continue working from home. In the past, I’ve been able to utilise working from home days as well where I’ve needed to.”


When asked what she would do with more paid leave, she answers “Any additional time I have left I’d like to spend with my daughter. It is definitely important to me to have that time together”.


“She is getting older and wiser and really notices the amount of time I spend on the laptop and phone,” Sam says. “So making sure I’m switching off from work and being present when I am with her, is really important.”


Employer support


Sam believes having someone [as a manager] who really it gets it in terms of what parents go through is vital. “Actually, it’s not even necessarily what parents go through,” Sam says, “but what people go through”.


Sam is pleased she’s able to utilise the flexible working arrangements offered by ANZ, which is heavily supported by her managers.


“It’s having the emotional intelligence and understanding to be able to trust their people and work with them to get the right outcomes whether they are in the office or working from home,” she says. “I believe you get the best out of your people by giving them that support and understanding.”


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