The closure of schools and daycares has made the past few months especially hard for parents working from home. While schools are set to re-open this Fall and daycares are gradually reopening, parents still face a hard choice. Not everyone may want to send their children back to school during a pandemic, but looking after kids while working from home is also tough.
As an employer you need to help out working parents among your staff. Being supportive of the needs of your employees will help you retain talent and build a positive work culture. Here are some ways in which we recommend you support your remote workers with children:
Allow for flexibility in work timings
A 9-to-5 routine may not suit working parents. Some might prefer early shifts or late shifts depending on their circumstances and available support at home. Ask your employees what best works for them and create customized work schedules. Rather than asking them to do the impossible, you are allowing them to work when they’ll be least distracted and more productive. Focus on the results and not the number of hours put in.
Create a support group at work
Bring the working parents in your staff together so that they can help and support each other. This could be through a group on the workplace messaging app you use or a Facebook or WhatsApp group. Parents could compare notes, share parenting advice, get help with homework or commonly faced challenges. Most importantly, they’ll find strength by connecting to other people who are experiencing the same problems.
Help them manage stress and anxiety
Working from home is not for everyone. It becomes harder still when it is thrust on you during a pandemic. Add to it the responsibility of childcare and homeschooling, and the stress doubles. Your employees may be anxious about the well-being of their kids along with other financial or familial worries. Make sure your employees are aware of resources, such as EAP and other mental health support. Keep an eye out for signs of stress (drop in productivity, changes in personality). Check in with employees who may be struggling.
Allow them to take annual leave or family responsibility leave
If an employee has young children and no support at home, it may help to give them some time off to figure things out. You could ask your employee to use their annual leave for this purpose. They could also use the family responsibility leave (five days of unpaid leave in BC and Alberta; three days in Ontario) to arrange for child support or to find a balance.
Do you need help updating your HR policies for a COVID-19 world?
For advice on HR and health and safety during the pandemic, call an expert at 1 (833) 247-3652.