When caring for schoolchildren who were suddenly learning at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, working parents had many difficulties: They had to homeschool, locate alternative child care, and amuse bored children when the schoolwork was over.
Working parents are once again forced to make a change as they juggle work obligations with family obligations and deal with the fear that coworkers and managers will perceive them as being less than committed to their jobs now that some children have returned to in-person classes, whether part-time or all day.
But it also showed that some companies are still far behind when it comes to accommodating working parents. Consider the contentious decision made by the Sydney, Australia, council to forbid its employees from watching children while working from home during the 2021 lockdown.
There are many things managers and HR executives can do to support working parents whether we’re under a lockdown or not. Three of our own were interviewed to discuss some of the finest activities to partake in as well as those to avoid.
How Can Managers Help?
According to Johnson, managers can assist by informing their staff of any year-round benefits the business might give, such as employer-provided backup childcare for urgent situations. She mentioned that these initiatives have been shown to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity among working parents.
HR managers may first ensure that employees have access to crucial benefits like flexible scheduling and parental leave. This enables working parents to prioritise their work activities while still managing their domestic responsibilities. To ensure that working parents feel acknowledged and supported in their positions, HR managers should be available to discuss any special modifications or requests made by workers with young children or other dependents.
Be Evenhanded About Flexibility
Managers may want to afford working parents flexibility during the school year. But how does a manager handle non-parents who may complain about doing more work because of these accommodations or who feel slighted that they’re not afforded similar breaks just because they don’t have children?
“Benefits equality is critical to building a culture supportive of work/life balance, and it’s essential to remember that ‘family’ does not simply mean children,” Johnson said.
However, provide employees who need to see a parent, spouse, or themselves to the doctor the same flexibility you give parents juggling a back-to-school schedule.
Working Parent Worry and Guilt
More than merely scheduling difficulties brought on by sending children back to school may hinder a working parent’s productivity. According to Galinsky, parents may be preoccupied with concerns about their kids’ academic performance, which may cause them to procrastinate on their work. Managers can assist by simply expressing interest in the well-being of a worker’s child.
According to Galinsky, “the straightforward act of the manager inquiring about how the employees’ children are doing in the transition back to school can signify a lot. “
That might imply that the conventional boundary between work and family is less solid. It can imply that the manager is concerned about my family and Myself. It might imply that I don’t need to give up my kids to work. Little actions like this, or even workshops to discuss this change, can have a significant impact.”
HR Managers have the ability to make a difference in the lives of working parents. When HR Managers prioritise and implement flexible policies, it can give working parents the opportunity to find a balance between work and family life. It is important for HR Managers to remember that no two situations are alike, so offering a variety of options for employees allows each individual parent to find what works best for their situation.