Well-Being//

How Workplaces Can Better Support Working Parents

The key is to focus on outcomes over output.

Bbernard/ Shutterstock
Bbernard/ Shutterstock

I bring my kids to work every day. How could I not when my office is at home? And soon enough, they will resume their schooling at home—and bring me to school.

The physical boundaries between home, work, and school that once separated our lives have become blurred, and parents are faced with a new reality on all fronts. Schools are looking to parents in unprecedented ways in this new co-educational partnership. Of course, there are many parents who cannot engage because they’re not able to work from home, like our important and heroic frontline workers, or they simply cannot take on this additional responsibility in the midst of their professional demands.

If you’re like me, as so many parents are right now, you’re juggling the responsibilities of a full-time job with the responsibilities of being a full-time parent. According to a recent study, 42% of companies do not have a dedicated plan to help employees balance childcare responsibilities—and most of the responsibility falls on women. As an organizational leader, please consider how you are supporting parents.

It’s nearly impossible to predict what each day will bring, which is why organizations need to be more flexible right now around how and when work gets done—especially for parents with young kids. All work is not going to get done during regular “business hours,” so consider implementing a no-meeting policy before 11 AM or have team-driven or even company-wide no-meeting days. 

Salesforce recently announced they’re letting employees work from home until August 2021 and they’re giving an extra six weeks of paid vacation to parents. Other organizations would be wise to follow their lead. This type of operational move is a smart play for the long term health of a company, especially where the speed of our economic recovery is in question.

The key is to focus on outcomes over output. If the work is getting done on time, if the quality meets or exceeds expectations, then it shouldn’t matter when it gets done or how many hours your employees log. 

This is also an opportunity to reimagine your employee benefits to better support your employees during this time. Instead of catered lunch and a fridge stocked with snacks, you’ll win employees over with mental health support and childcare. The lack of socialization with remote learning is a major concern for a lot of parents. What if you converted your empty office that you’re paying for into a daycare center for your employees?

If onsite childcare isn’t an option, consider providing remote academic or social support to the children of your employees. How awesome would it be for companies to sponsor virtual social skills groups where kids get to interact with others? These types of groups, run by trained counselor-facilitators can help children develop collaborative problem solving skills using role play, acting, and team building with a social skills focus—the very skills that they will largely miss out on from an online remote experience.

As we move into this next phase of the pandemic and kids head back to school, working parents will feel it the most. Your success will largely depend on how, and how well, you support them.

This article was originally published on the Founders Foundry.

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