For working parents, back-to-school time can be one of the most stressful points of the entire school year. This major transition to families certainly doesn’t come without its challenges.
“This results in a roller coaster of emotions, shifts in schedules and routines, and an increase in general life busyness with new activities and tasks related to school,” says Emily Seamone of Women, Work, and Life, a career counselor and work life specialist. “Parents have to manage the extra stress inherent in such upheaval, and yet still get to their jobs on time, attend to their work, and perform at their best level.”
The good news is there are things employers can do to help manage the disruption of back to school. Here is a look at five things employers can do to help with back-to-school challenges.
- Allow for Some Flexibility
Along with flexible hours, employers can help by allowing parents to come in a little later during the first couple of weeks when school starts to help younger children adjust to their new routines and classrooms. Some of that flexibility would even allow employees to make up work at night once children are in bed, Seamone suggests.
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- Provide Family Care Benefits
There is nothing more stressful for a working parent than to have the last-minute need for child care when a child becomes sick. The same goes for when school is closed for a holiday or when teachers have professional development days. More and more employers are providing access to backup care solutions through their employee benefits. Offering this type of support can be a huge game-changer for working parents.
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- Offer Concierge Services
It’s hard enough managing life as a working parent, but when school is back in session, time management is even more critical. One way employers can help is something companies across the U.S. are starting to add within their employee benefits packages -- connecting employees with concierge services. Seamone says these services can be a huge help for the working parent. Connecting employees with errand runners, housekeepers and even dry-cleaning services helps employees accomplish the everyday tasks that can seem impossible during the school year when you’re working full time. These type of services certainly help employees manage their time effectively both inside and outside of work.
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- Establish Employee Resource Groups
Run by employees, an ERG or common interest group in the workplace for working parents is extremely helpful when it comes to tackling parental issues, like back-to-school. These groups allow employees to meet and talk with others who are dealing with similar issues, to work through problems or just have the ear of someone in a similar situation. Just knowing you aren’t alone in dealing with a particular situation can often times help alleviate some of the stress that comes with it.
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- Help Them “Home from Work”
Helping employees take care of their personal business during business hours can be a huge help for working parents. A Captivate Network report found 93 percent of busy professionals report taking breaks to do personal activities -- sometimes known as “Homing from Work” -- during the day. From bringing in in-house services like massages, manicures, pedicures and even yoga classes and meditation programs to help with stress, to giving employees tools like on-demand services, work perks like these save valuable time. Some companies even have workplace CSA pickups. Helping employees “home from work” by offering programs to assist make a big difference for any employee -- and when you remove a layer of stress from their lives, it has the added benefit of improving their focus and productivity during the workday.
Download our free Care.com webinar to study up on best-in-class back-to-school tips, tricks and strategies for tackling some of the biggest challenges working families face this time of year.