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How to Support Working Parents With Back to School

It’s back to school time already? Yes, and the classroom still looks much different than it did before COVID-19.

For many working parents, this new school year brings a certain level of stress and anxiety. From worrying about their children’s health and safety to keeping up with hybrid schedules, it’s likely that these employees are feeling overwhelmed. 

This is why establishing a supportive workplace for parents during this time is critical to ensuring their wellbeing, productivity, and retention. 

So how can companies help these employees navigate these challenging times? 

Here are some ways you can support working parents during the transition back to school:

Clear Communication

The key to supporting your employees during this time is having clear communication. Schedule some time with each employee to talk through any concerns they may have about balancing work with their children returning to school. Clearly communicate expectations and discuss any accommodations they may need to be successful at their jobs. By checking in with these employees frequently, you can build trust with them and create a continuous two-way dialogue to help them feel supported.

Increased Flexibility

With COVID-19 cases still on the rise, employees who have children are still getting used to hybrid learning models and unpredictable schedules. This uncertainty and cognitive overload can take a huge toll on their wellbeing and mental health—especially if they have children who attend different schools. For employees who continue to work remotely while their children are home, managing a household and a full-time career simultaneously during this time can be overwhelming. 

To demonstrate understanding, managers should respond with empathy when dealing with schedule changes or last minute requests. Implementing flexible hours is a great way to help working parents gain better control over their schedules and be there for their children. Shifting towards flexible schedules has been shown to increase productivity and engagement, while helping employees avoid workplace stress and burnout.

Employee Connection

Building relationships with other parents who are experiencing similar challenges can be hugely beneficial for employees with children. Companies can facilitate this connection by encouraging these employees to join their ERG and slack channels dedicated to parents. This will help them feel supported, enable them to share resources and tips, and promote a sense of community and belonging for parents in the workplace. 

In addition to ERG participation, leadership can also host sessions to create another forum for parents to share ideas and get to know each other. Consider starting a lunch-and-learn series for parents or have a member of your leadership team host a candid conversation on back to school-related issues affecting working parents.

Given the challenges that many working parents are facing, it’s important for organizations to provide the support and resources they need to succeed. To learn more about how to manage your employees with children empathetically during COVID-19, check out our blog post

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