Ah -- back-to-school season. With all of the new ventures, classmates and extracurriculars come the carpools, parent-teacher conferences and research projects.
An exciting time for kids, going back to school can also spell stress for working parents.But employers can take a load off employees with kids during this time of year.
Prevent your employees' personal pressures from impacting productivity.
- Remind Employees About Company Policies
Sounds simple, but a little refresher can go a long way when it comes to giving parents with peace-of-mind.
“Knowing the lay of the land can provide parents with reassurance and confidence at what can be a stressful time of year,” says Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families. “All parents know that there are times when missing work is unavoidable, so knowing whether [they] have paid sick, vacation or personal time to use, and understanding employers’ rules about providing notice for using that time, is also important.”
- Allow Flexible Work Arrangements
Assuming you’ve discussed the situation, let your employees use personal time off during that first week back to school so it doesn’t interfere with their performance at work. If they have to come in late or leave early, allow them to make up lost time by working a little later or working from home in the evening. “Flexible work arrangements -- or “work-flex” -- are fast becoming a great way to retain, recruit and engage employees,” adds Shabo.
Types of work-flex options include compressed work weeks, telecommuting, job sharing, flex-scheduling and a results-oriented work environment. Explore them all to see which ones best suit your company’s culture.
Read more about What Working Parents Wish Their Boss Would Say
- Inform Staff About Available Employee Assistance Programs
This can help working parents locate various types of resources in their communities. Does your company provide child care resource and referral to help find after-school sitters, child care subsidies or even a backup care benefit for those days when the kids get sick or the sitter cancels? Not only will having this information handy help your employees prepare for the year ahead, but knowing child care is covered will allow them to focus on work while they’re in the office.
- Address the Work-Life Issue Across the Company
Chances are many of your employees have families with school-age children. Allison O'Kelly, founder of Mom Corps, suggests emailing the staff, letting them know that management is aware of and understands work-life challenges around this time of year. “Employers can gain a lot of loyalty from their employees if they are proactive when it comes to recognizing the work-life needs of their team,” she says.
Providing information on state-level family-friendly laws is another good plan of action. “There are also cities and states with ‘small necessities’ laws, which require employers to provide employees unpaid time off to attend a child’s school-related events or to take family members to medical appointments,” says Shabo.
Read more about the Biggest Issues Working Parents Face
- Evolve Your Family-Friendly Policies
Businesses that value their employees recognize the importance of policies like parental and medical leave, paid sick days and employee assistance programs. “Many businesses provide their employees with child care, child care subsidies and flexible spending accounts to offset the costs of child care,” says Shabo. Having such assistance in place for workers will make them feel respected.
Managing the family-work life balance during the back-to-school season all comes down to flexibility and open dialogue. By providing the tools your employees need to do their jobs effectively as well as manage their responsibilities at home, you can create a situation where everybody wins.