Employers: 3 Ways to Support Working Parents during Back-to-School Season

Employers: 3 Ways to Support Working Parents during Back-to-School Season

While much of the world divides the calendar up into four seasons — each with its lofty poetic imagery — many working parents are somewhat more down-to-earth, and divide the year into two phases: “thankfully, it’s not back-to-school season,” and “oh no, it’s back-to-school season.”

Unfortunately, it is indeed time for the latter — which means that kids dreading the thought of waking up before noon won’t be only ones dragging their heels and shaking their heads. Their beleaguered, exhausted “when did my kid’s homework get more complicated than doing my taxes?”-asking parents will soon be joining them in a swamp of back-to-school unhappiness. That’s the bad news.

The good news, is that employers can and should lean forward to give the working parents on their roster a helping hand — not just because it’s the moral and ethical thing to do, but because it helps maintain performance and productivity; which is important for the broader team and organization as a whole.

Considering this, here are three practical tips to make a difficult situation a better for everyone. Well, everyone except for kids who must suffer the shocking indignity of learning about Venn diagrams instead of the newest generation of Emoji.

  1. Flex Time

“Go time” for working parents usually starts around 6am, and races until around 8:00am — which is usually punctuated with a “HURRY UP OR YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE AGAIN!” Employers can ease some of this pain and suffering by offering flex time. For example, employees can be allowed to come into work a 30 or 60 minutes late in September, and make up for it later in the day. If that solves one problem but creates another, then the time deficit can be made up later on the year when things normalize (or rather, when they become as semi-normal as they’ll get!).

  1. Remote Working

Remote working can be offered as part of the flex time possibility described above, or offered as a separate program (i.e. available to those who don’t need or want flex time, or if offering flex time simply isn’t feasible given the type of job). The key here is to make sure that expectations around workload and productivity are clear and mutually agreeable, and that the technology is suitable. For example, if employees can’t access critical systems from home (e.g. CRM, project management software, online documentation drives, etc.), then they’ll run into productivity problems and probably version control nightmares as well.

  1. Informal Leave Policies

Every working parent knows when they get “the call,” that the phone rings a little bit differently. And even as they nervously say hello, they’re already bracing for impact because they know — they don’t know why, they just do — that it’s their child’s school calling to tell them about an illness or incident. Employers can make this stressful scenario by putting informal policies in place vs. formal processes that help working parents leave ASAP. Because it’s not a matter of if “the call” will come. It’s a question of when, how often, and how bad.

Some Final Advice: Communicate to Avoid Resentment

Working parents often get the worst of both worlds: their kids have no idea — and even less appreciation — for the amount of sacrifice they make on a daily basis. And when they get to work, their colleagues without school-aged children (or children at all) resent that they get “special treatment” in the workplace, such as exclusive or preferred flex time and remote working options, etc.

The best way to address this issue is through communication, and to help offended employees understand that working parents aren’t getting special treatment. Rather, the organization is simply doing the right thing: leaning forward to help at a time when it matters most. Instead of being resentful, all employees — those with back-to-school nightmares and those without — should be proud of where they work.

Help with Workplace Best Practices

At PIVOTAL, we can help your organization put practical, strategic and employee-focused best practices in place that help you lean forward when it matters — and at the same time, generate engagement and loyalty that translates into better performance, productivity, customer service, competitive advantage, and overall success and profitability. To learn more, contact us today.

 

While much of the world divides the calendar up into four seasons — each with its lofty poetic imagery — many working parents are somewhat more down-to-earth, and divide the year into two phases: “thankfully, it’s not back-to-school season,” and “oh no, it’s back-to-school season.”

Unfortunately, it is indeed time for the latter — which means that kids dreading the thought of waking up before noon won’t be only ones dragging their heels and shaking their heads. Their beleaguered, exhausted “when did my kid’s homework get more complicated than doing my taxes?”-asking parents will soon be joining them in a swamp of back-to-school unhappiness. That’s the bad news.

The good news, is that employers can and should lean forward to give the working parents on their roster a helping hand — not just because it’s the moral and ethical thing to do, but because it helps maintain performance and productivity; which is important for the broader team and organization as a whole.

Considering this, here are three practical tips to make a difficult situation a better for everyone. Well, everyone except for kids who must suffer the shocking indignity of learning about Venn diagrams instead of the newest generation of Emoji.

  1. Flex Time

“Go time” for working parents usually starts around 6am, and races until around 8:00am — which is usually punctuated with a “HURRY UP OR YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE AGAIN!” Employers can ease some of this pain and suffering by offering flex time. For example, employees can be allowed to come into work a 30 or 60 minutes late in September, and make up for it later in the day. If that solves one problem but creates another, then the time deficit can be made up later on the year when things normalize (or rather, when they become as semi-normal as they’ll get!).

  1. Remote Working

Remote working can be offered as part of the flex time possibility described above, or offered as a separate program (i.e. available to those who don’t need or want flex time, or if offering flex time simply isn’t feasible given the type of job). The key here is to make sure that expectations around workload and productivity are clear and mutually agreeable, and that the technology is suitable. For example, if employees can’t access critical systems from home (e.g. CRM, project management software, online documentation drives, etc.), then they’ll run into productivity problems and probably version control nightmares as well.

  1. Informal Leave Policies

Every working parent knows when they get “the call,” that the phone rings a little bit differently. And even as they nervously say hello, they’re already bracing for impact because they know — they don’t know why, they just do — that it’s their child’s school calling to tell them about an illness or incident. Employers can make this stressful scenario by putting informal policies in place vs. formal processes that help working parents leave ASAP. Because it’s not a matter of if “the call” will come. It’s a question of when, how often, and how bad.

Some Final Advice: Communicate to Avoid Resentment

Working parents often get the worst of both worlds: their kids have no idea — and even less appreciation — for the amount of sacrifice they make on a daily basis. And when they get to work, their colleagues without school-aged children (or children at all) resent that they get “special treatment” in the workplace, such as exclusive or preferred flex time and remote working options, etc.

The best way to address this issue is through communication, and to help offended employees understand that working parents aren’t getting special treatment. Rather, the organization is simply doing the right thing: leaning forward to help at a time when it matters most. Instead of being resentful, all employees — those with back-to-school nightmares and those without — should be proud of where they work.

Help with Workplace Best Practices

At PIVOTAL, we can help your organization put practical, strategic and employee-focused best practices in place that help you lean forward when it matters — and at the same time, generate engagement and loyalty that translates into better performance, productivity, customer service, competitive advantage, and overall success and profitability. To learn more, contact us today.

 

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