The Rules of Parenting Have Changed - What Your Company Should Know
Pre-pandemic, parents of school-aged children encountered some predictable events that impacted on their working lives:
Kids got sick and stayed home, so parents did too
It snowed and schools were closed
It was a school holiday, so parents asked to work from home
You probably instituted policies that supported parents at times like those, because you are an enlightened employer. You offered flextime, non-rigid policies that let parents call in to say they were working from home that day, and more. And those policies worked for everyone - both your company and your employees - back in those pre-Covid days. But now things have changed and the stakes are higher.
Increased Demands on Parents Post-Covid
The old times of snow days and kids with sniffles look pretty tame compared with what parents are coping with today:
Parents don’t even know if their kids’ schools will reopen this year
If schools will reopen, parents don’t know what the daily or weekly schedules will be
Most parents will continue to home school their children, at least part of the time
Parents will be ultra-vigilant about their kids’ wellness, and will likely be taking their kids for more checkups and medical visits
After-school activities like sports might not happen at all, and that will impact on schedules
How Your Company Can Support Parents Now
There are no one-size-fits-all policies that work for every company that employs parents. But here are some best practices that are worth considering:
Talk to people! Instead of assuming that you know what parents are up against and what they want, let them tell you. A free and open dialog can go a long way toward keeping your people happy, productive and employed.
Learn about your employees’ kids. How old are they, where are they in school, what do they like to do, and what are their names? Parents love to talk about their kids, and employers who want to hear about them establish a stronger bond with employees who are parents.
Stress honesty. If you are honest with your employees about what you need and hope for from them, they will be more likely to be honest with you. The last thing you want is to establish company policies that make your people think that the only way they can get a day to deal with parenting issues is to lie to you.
Review the health care coverage and benefits you provide. Granted, benefits are costly. But see what you can do to offer your parents what they need for themselves and their children. New coverage options are emerging for employee plans from Aetna and other carriers, including plans that allow on-phone telehealth consultations and visits to clinics that are located in pharmacies.
Establish clear lines of communication. Parents should have an immediate way to let your company know when they will be working from home, taking their children for medical appointments, or taking other steps to be with their children. Let them text you or alert you with just one action, not wait until your offices open to call in.
Explore childcare solutions. Many parents today hesitate to send their kids into group settings - and they should. But ask parents to explore and suggest childcare facilities, possibly near their homes, that could help them stake out more uninterrupted time to work from home or remotely.
Implement stringent cleaning protocols in company locations. Parents want to feel assured that they will not be exposed to the virus at work . . . and that they will not bring illness back into their homes. So be sure to set up cleaning procedures and let your employees know exactly what they are.
And Consider Setting Up Satellite Working Locations Near Employees’ Homes
Parents who work close to their homes are better able to respond quickly when a kid feels sick in the classroom and needs to go home, when schools close unexpectedly and when other needs disrupt their days.
To learn about the many solutions that can allow your employees to work from locations near their homes contact us today.