Working parents are one population of the nation currently faced with additional difficult challenges due to the current pandemic. Having the pressure between performing at work, keeping their children safe, homeschooling to the best of their ability, and keeping their own mental sanity in check is a lot for anyone! As leaders, HR managers, and companies, we owe it to our working parents to aid in them feeling continuously supported throughout this time. We are faced with a new set of challenges as we are responsible for ensuring people within the company are able to do their job successfully while giving them the options for some flexibility, especially during these times. We put together supportive options in an attempt to create a healthy work environment for our working parents to help alleviate the stressors in the current climate.
Companies with working parents are all asking the same thing: “How can we help our working parents, while still keeping our company’s goals in mind?”
When you have a business to run, goals to hit, and budgets to watch, it's no secret keeping your organization afloat can be extraordinary taxing! And the working parents you have on staff are now having to work under immense pressure to perform while keeping their child on track educationally.
It’s tough. There’s not an easy answer. But the longer you wait on a decision, the more stressful it can become for members on your team with children. By putting off decisions surrounding how to best support working parents, you are actually setting these employees up for failure. 😱
Additionally, companies providing a lack of flexibility for their working parents are going to find it detrimental to the future of the organization. The world is at a standstill, and this is a defining moment for organizations to step up to the plate and set the tone for company culture.
You can hold all the happy hours, Zoom trivia nights, and webinars you want, but if you can’t support your employees when they need it most, what does that say about your culture?
Guidance and support during this crucial time can be a make or break for your working parents on the edge of burnout. And this guidance and support goes beyond working parents too, other employees are still watching how your organization is responding during this time. Because how you treat every member on your team counts, this is a crucial moment for companies to show their true colors and define who they are as leaders when times get tough.
While companies are implementing new policies, flexible working environments, and unique benefit offerings, it is essential that organizations are ensuring all employees feel supported.
This is an extremely difficult, unknown, and confusing time for all employees. And it is vital to keep an open, honest line of communication between employees and your People team. While providing flexibility to working parents is at the top of everyone’s minds right now, it is also key that you are not doing so at the expense of those without children on your team. Life is all about balance, and this present-day obstacle is no different!
The Challenges Working Parents are Facing
Working parents are currently in unchartered territory. While many may have worked remote in the past, most parents have not had to manage virtual schooling, virtual work, and all the hurdles that pop up in between.
Whether trying to keep their kids quiet during a lunch break so they can take a client call, or trying to teach the new “common core” way of doing geometry in between their team meetings. On top of that, working parents may be putting in additional hours long after their kids go to sleep, only to wake up at the crack of dawn for another day of juggling virtual school and remote work.
Here we provide seven useful tips on some alternative options for working parents because after all - we are all in this together! The most important takeaway from this article is that the majority of these tips will not work unless you can establish an open line of communication with your employees.
If you have a bunch of staff that feel their voices go unheard, their needs are unmet, and they are feeling overall unsupported, it will be hard to implement any of these options as you will not be able to get candid feedback on what your employees need.
7 useful tips for working parents
#1 Provide Flexible Working Schedule
Parents are juggling a lot these days, so providing some flexibility in schedules is a helpful option. Loosen up on those “butts-in-seats” policies as it’s going to be increasingly difficult for any parent to adhere to them.
If you have multiple working parents on the same team, have an open discussion with them individually on what they need to balance work and focusing on their families. Have a collective conversation with the rest of their team as well, as you want to be sure you’re not giving part of the team extreme flexibility, while giving the other part of the team an unrealistic and even more demanding workload.
Some organizations are giving parents the option to work a four day workweek in order to regroup, dedicate a full day to quality time with their kids, or even just a full day for them to clear their inboxes.
Another option is just general flexibility on work hours, maybe working parents can spend the mornings helping with virtual school and log on to get their work done in the afternoon through the evening.
Whatever options work for your employees, you want to make sure you can create a “schedule” with flexibility so they can actually commit without feeling stressed out.
#2 Set “No Meetings Day” Policies
If you notice the entire company has become a Zoom meeting marathon, not only do you run the risk of your entire staff experiencing Zoom Fatigue, but you’re also putting stress on parents for whom such marathons can be unmanageable and unrealistic.
Even without kids, a fully packed meeting schedule can lead to unproductivity and burnout. Creating a “No Meetings Day” policy will benefit all of your employees. Plan these days out at least a month in advance, and send everyone a calendar invite so they can schedule client meetings and project deadlines accordingly. Try to do them monthly if this is something your organization can swing!
Another great tip for combating Zoom Fatigue is to require all meetings to have an agenda. When people are forced to sit down and write about the purpose of their meeting, they may realize an email can suffice!
#3 Create a Slack Channel for Parents to share Tips
A dedicated channel for working parents to talk with others is essential during this hectic time! If you use Slack or Teams, create a private channel for working parents to have an outlet with their colleagues who are currently facing the same struggles.
This outlet shows employees you mean it when you say that we’re all in this together, and by creating a channel, you’re cultivating important interpersonal relationships as well as giving your staff additional support.
With so many companies going remote, some employees are missing the opportunity to discuss non-work related matters. Creating a dedicated group for working parents to connect with one another, check in, offer advice, support, tips, or even just vent is a great way to help staff across teams connect with one another!
#4 Provide child care services
While what the upcoming school year looks like varies state-to-state, not many are opening schools back up this year. Even if your state is reopening schools, not all parents feel safe sending their children back to school with so much about COVID-19 still remaining a mystery.
If your working parents are planning on participating in virtual learning for their children, that means they are caring for their children 24/7 while balancing work. A unique benefit your organization can participate in is to offer some relief with providing childcare services! While it may be only a few hours, this gesture can go a long way.
Fringe makes offering employees childcare services through UrbanSitter a seamless process, and their platform even has other gift card options such as Headspace and Netflix for when you need to zen out or binge watch your stressors away!
#5 Send a survey to pulse check
Pulse surveys are always a necessity in checking in on staff and evaluating employee engagement, but being proactive about checking in during a trying time shows employees that leadership truly does care. So amp up that pulse check and see what you can do to be supportive!
Feel free to make it anonymous so your employees can voice their frustrations without feeling uncomfortable, but make sure you leave an optional field for those who do want to put their name. Sometimes an anonymous vent is great, but when you really need a helping hand, you should feel comfortable asking!
#6 Normalize children in the background
Embrace family life stepping into work life! Who doesn’t love to see a dog in the background of Zoom? Or your coworker’s child popping in to ask for a snack? With the world functioning remotely, it is time to normalize seeing some babies and fur-babies making an appearance from time to time.
While you want employees to remain focused on the task at hand, sometimes life happens. As long as it’s not affecting performance, there’s no harm in quick guest appearances now and then. It’s difficult to keep everyone occupied all the time, and employees should not feel like they need to apologize if an unannounced guest shows up.
Another useful tip for employers is to provide services like Krisp, which helps to cancel out background noise on calls!
#7 Send Swag for the Family
Who doesn’t love swag? For your working parents, consider some swag that can help distract the kiddos during conference calls such as a nice coloring book or a puzzle. Or how about something the entire family can enjoy like a movie night swag pack?
Everyone loves receiving swag because it’s a simple way for your employees to feel that your organization went the extra mile to send a little something to their family during these uncertain times!