5 Ways Your Organization Can Support Working Parents, and Keep Employee Engagement Up, During Covid-19:

Back-To-School Parent Support

Back to school often comes with a great sigh of relief from working parents who’ve spent the better part of the summer holidays juggling childcare, summer camps, carpooling to grandparents’ and relatives’ homes and more.

Enter Covid-19: distance learning, blended-learning, unpredictable quarantine, spotty wifi, computer glitches, and this back-to-school season is uniquely exhausting for many.

As an organization, it’s fundamental to support working parents during this time. Though not all companies have the same financial muscle, there are ways to continue supporting parents and maintain employee engagement. This is a space to come up with creative solutions and show your greatest asset – your collaborators – that they matter, their needs matter, and you’re willing to find ways to address those needs.

This, in turn, will help your company retain your top talent, maintain production and engagement, and cement your employer brand. Here are 5 ways your organization can support working parents during Covid-19 and this very exhausting back-to-school season:

1. Ask employees what they need. This is critical. Sometimes top-down solutions, though well intentioned, do nothing to alleviate the day-to-day stress your collaborators are feeling. Try the CustomInsight free Online Suggestion Box , a pulse survey, or the Covid-19 Organization Check-in Survey.

2. Offer flexible hours: We’re talking extreme flexibility. This takes some creative scheduling from HR and organization leaders, but it’s worth the time and result. Can employees take early morning or late evening shifts to help attend to their children during the day? Are there days certain employees have said, “Pease no meetings.” Listen to them. Let them take the lead. Let your collaborators get their work done in their own way, on their own time.

3. Provide resources for caregiving: This can be information and memberships to concierge services (like UrbanSitter), benefits packages (like a paid family and medical leave insurance program), partnering with a nearby daycare facility, or looking into providing on-site care services. The need for kids to be in safe places and cared for by professionals is real. Covid-19 has magnified the importance of childcare and revealed that parents simply don’t have the support they need. What were once considered “perks” have now become fundamental.

4. Modify performance expectations: This might seem counter-intuitive, but let’s get real here. Expecting collaborators to perform at their best during such a hard time (both mentally and physically) is a little unreasonable. We’re not suggesting you throw in the towel, but flexibility as an organization, modifying performance expectations, can help lower stress levels and keep your collaborators producing during the first few weeks of the new school year.

5. Think outside the box:
a. Set up a tech fund for parents to: purchase laptops and tablets for distance learning, bulk up their wifi services at home for both remote working and distance learning.
b. Implement a family wellness program where collaborators and their families have access to health services.
c. Set up a distance learning forum or platform for parents to share experiences, resources, ask for support, and keep connected with one another.
d. Create a volunteer tutor program for students to click in and get help with challenging homework.
e. Get your library cards updated. Most libraries now have online collections, so partnering with the local library to get your employees their cards will provide their children with countless resources to help with distance and semi-presential learning.

Now, more than ever, community is important. Supporting families during this back-to-school season will set the tone for the year to come. It will help engage employees, retain top talent, reduce costly turnover, attract new talent, and strengthen your employer brand. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

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