Being a parent is no small task. It takes a ton of hard work, is sometimes a thankless job, and adds a lot of stress to a person’s life. Due to COVID-19, working parents are having an even tougher time trying to work while parenting at the same time.
The pandemic has created new stress for working parents: how to work and parent at the exact same time. While the country has begun to open back up, most kids are still learning remotely. Parents may have to work at home and still make sure their kids are learning too. Working parents are not getting a break and are mentally spent.
Before COVID-19, parents were able to send their kids to school/daycare, and then be able to work with little interruption. Things have shifted and now a lot more employees are working from home. Because of this, a new set of challenges has arisen (especially if they are working parents). Yes, they may not have to deal with traffic on their commute. Or, maybe they are able to work in a more comfortable environment. However, parents who are attempting to work from home have distractions. Their kids may need care or help with school.
According to a recent report from HRM America, 46% of mothers who lost their job during the current pandemic was due to lack of childcare or because of their new childcare responsibilities.
So, how can employers assist working parents during a global pandemic?
Below, are some tips on how employers can support working parents.
The number one-way employers can offer their support is to effectively communicate with their employees. Employers have to ask working parents what their needs are. If they do not know, how can they help?
Employers need to let working parents know they are not only ready to help, but there will not be repercussions for it. According to a Catalyst- CNBC survey, 39% of working parents worry they will be fired if they reach out and ask for help.
Check-in with employees, and see how they are doing. Ask if they need any additional support and offer ways to help. Emphasize the need for communication between employers and employees as well as among co-workers. Offer suggestions on communicating priorities to employees will help make sure nothing falls through the cracks. It will also uplift working parents.
Another suggestion would be when communicating via email, mark the sense of urgency in the subject line. If it isn’t urgent, indicate that. The sheer number of emails an employee receives a day can be overwhelming. This communication will help streamline important priorities and give direction to employees.
Most companies are operating from home these days, rather than the office. Some days, parents are just trying to stay above water. The typical 9-5 is not always realistic for working parents at this moment. The traditional 9-to-5 job is changing, even pre-COVID-19.
A study by OnePoll and GoToMeeting conducted in 2018 found that less than half of American office workers prefer a traditional 9-to-5 office day. Employees prefer a more flexible workday. Try letting working parents work more flexible, non-traditional hours. By offering employees the option to complete their work in the early morning hours or later at night, could allow for fewer interruptions and more of a balance for parents.
Employers and other employees should have compassion and understanding when it comes to working parents. Raising humans is a hard job. Having to do it while working from your house and teaching your kid at the same time is even harder. Being patient with employees through this period of life will make a company stronger. Employees will be more committed to their organization if treated well.
Encourage working parents to take some time away in order to re-charge. Help them understand it is okay to step away, and not feel bad about it. The work-life balance line has been heavily blurred due to COVID-19, and it has caused a huge strain on employees.
When it comes to dynamics between working vs. non-working parents there isn’t generally an issue. Non-parent employees typically understand that working parents are in a different place and that comes with a different look. According to Ellen Galinsky, President of the Families and Work Institute, “research indicates that complaints against parent privilege are rare” and “is more of a perceived problem than a real problem”.
Employers need to understand during these unusual times, deadlines may have to be adjusted. Work with employees who are parents to create more fluid deadlines that are still realistic and completed in a timely manner.
For more information on how to create a remote work policy for all employees, check out 10 Simple Steps to Create a Quality Remote Work Policy.
The U.S is defined as an individualistic culture. During this global pandemic, it is time to shed the ME and embrace the WE. Employers have done a great job in recent years emphasizing collaboration and working together. Now amidst a widespread virus, it is essential employers emphasize teamwork.
Working as a team can really help to balance tasks, and takes the pressure off of one employee. In order to lend a hand to working parent employees, work with them on assigning/trading tasks. Have non-parent employees work on projects that require more time or that need a firm deadline. Working parents can take more tasks that require less time with a more flexible deadline. This way, employees are all doing the same amount of work. Yet, working parents are able to manage their workload and parenting a little bit better.
It is all about trying to create a balance for everyone. When the team wins, the employee wins, which means the company ultimately wins.
Working parents want two things: to be good parents and good employees. It is important that working parents receive the support they need. These are tough times. If we help each other out these hard times may just get a little easier.