As I was discussing after-school options with some other parents recently, one told me about a mom who took a late lunch break every day to shuttle her daughter between middle school and an afternoon program. Students’ return to school doesn’t necessarily make life easier for working parents.
In fact, 63% of the employees in a recent poll said they notice more stress at back-to-school time among their co-workers who are parents. “Back-to-school preparations can put an emotional and financial strain on employees, and often alters work schedules, priorities and productivity,” said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer of Workplace Options, an employee support and work-life services provider that conducted the survey with Public Policy Polling.
Give your employees a break as they juggle work and life responsibilities:
- Learn the schedules. Be attentive to important dates and work around them when possible. Don’t schedule an important meeting for the same day that three of your team members have children starting kindergarten. Earn appreciation by telling an employee to take off early the afternoon before the big homecoming game where his son will be quarterback.
- Provide resources and flexibility. Even if you can’t hire an employee assistance program, let your employees know about community resources available to them. Connecting employees who have children in the same schools can allow them to share information and coordinate car pools. One office where I worked ensured that parents could come to work on snow days by allowing them to bring their children to the office too. That’s not an option in every workplace, but by talking with employees you can discover solutions.
- Be fair to all your employees. Don’t alienate team members who don’t have children by forcing them to cover for co-workers who are parents. Recognize that every employee has a personal life, and do what you can to allow them to enjoy both work and their outside interests.
How do you handle being a working parent?
[Image Source: Woodley Wonder Works]