Here we go again.
The start of the school year has arrived and parents are once again grappling with concerns and contingencies related to a pandemic that didn’t disappear over the summer break (yes, I got lulled into this false sense of hope too!).
We’ve been here before. We implemented homeschooling (thank you teachers), we shared productivity and educational tips (I think I even wrote a blog about this…), we posted funny/not funny memes about our struggles. Where possible, we modified our working schedules and we muddled through as best we could.
The reality is that COVID-19 will continue to wreak havoc on our schedules and our lives as our children head back to school. Parents who have meticulously planned childcare, as well as a backup plan, will see it disrupted without warning. We will still wake up in the morning to a wee voice sobbing “I don’t feel good.”
This constant juggle of the unknown is incredibly stressful for your working parent employees.
We know that employers who treat their employees well see their efforts repaid with loyalty and dedication as well as an enhanced reputation.
Providing REAL Support
Here are three real things you can do to support your working parents right now. Yes, these will require money. Yes, they will be worth the investment.
1. Have a conversation. Say things like:
- How can we help?
- We know that balancing work and parenting might be unpredictable and challenging over the next couple of months. We know that a lot of factors are beyond your control. We value your contribution here and know that it won’t be like this forever.
- If you or your child is ill and you can’t work for a day or two, or need flexibility in your hours, or need to work remotely, please let your supervisor know as soon as possible. We will work with you because we value your contribution, and we know this isn’t forever.
- If a situation requires you to be absent or requires flexibility for longer than a few days you should connect with (Human Resources or appropriate leader). There are options to support your needs because we value your contribution, and we know that this isn’t indicative of your commitment or ability.
TIP: Make sure your messaging is consistent from all leaders and that you have programs in place to provide the promised support.
2. Acknowledge that childcare is expensive, even more so on short notice during a pandemic.
Virtual activities and courses, upgrading technology, having groceries delivered because you can’t take your sick child with you to the store, ordering food because you can’t add one more task to your day. These are all expenses that would be optional under different circumstances but have become necessities.
TIP: Consider adding an interim allowance to your family benefit program, specifically for the purpose of contingent childcare related expenses.
3. Gift Giving. Do you want to acknowledge a job well done or that you appreciate an effort? Here are gift ideas for working parents that are useful:
- Gift certificate for a takeout/delivery service, Skip the Dishes, Door Dash, Uber Eats and others. Meal services are nice but a gift card for a takeout service means an employee doesn’t have to explain that their 7 year old won’t eat broccoli-au-gratin. Keep it easy, give them options.
- Gift certificate for a grocery store delivery service. Again, make life easier. While you’re at it a gift certificate for the same grocery store would probably be also well received.
TIP: Don’t forget the appreciation part. A sincere note that reminds them that they are valued and appreciated will ease worried minds.
To learn more about how AccessHR can support you and your organization, contact us directly.
AccessHR Inc. provides professional HR consulting services with exceptional quality, creativity and ethical practice. When it comes to supporting clients, we focus on doing the right thing.