With the outbreak of COVID-19, there are suddenly millions of parents working from home with kids. And with school closures, millions of kids are staying home from school to complete their classwork online. While extra quality family time is great, this unexpected transition to remote work poses a legitimate challenge to working parents and their families. How can employers and managers offer support for working parents?
These five tips will help employers offer authentic care to working parents who are new to remote work. With intentional effort, your workforce will feel the resilience and support they need to meet their demands at home and at work.
5 Ways to Help Parents Working From Home
1. Give working parents the flexibility they need
Parenting is a demanding job, and many of your employees are juggling this full-time responsibility without childcare or babysitters. You can support parents working from home by allowing them to take time off to care for their families without dipping into PTO. Also consider shifting work hours to accommodate their demanding schedules. These are simple gestures of help for working parents that send a big message about employee care.
2. Shorten or eliminate meetings
Encourage your workforce to be conservative when scheduling online and virtual meetings. Back-to-back appointments make it more difficult for a parent to care for a child’s ever-changing needs. Ask yourself if meetings can be eliminated, and consider ending essential meetings 10 minutes before the hour. It’s another easy adjustment that goes a long way for a busy parent.
3. Host a virtual ERG for parents working from home with kids
An ERG, or employee resource group, gives your working parents a chance to talk through common challenges with trusted coworkers. ERGs create a sense of inclusion and solidarity for everyone involved. During times of crisis, building unity throughout your workforce keeps employees engaged and helps leadership teams better understand issues that would otherwise go unsaid. Consider dividing your ERG into small groups based on the ages of the children represented. Discussion topics could include time management, setting boundaries or helping kids during unexpected changes.
4. Send regular updates
Help working parents manage their schedules by communicating plans early and often. Choose a time each week to send a company-wide message about work updates, schedule changes and important policies. This helps the entire workforce stay on the same page and plan family obligations accordingly. Consider using a mobile app to deliver timely updates to everyone — including workers without a company email address.
5. Equip managers to provide help for working parents
In a crisis, your employees will have questions. Are your managers equipped with the right information? Work with company leadership to supply helpful information to mid-level leaders. That way, managers can support their direct reports and further build trusting relationships.
Working parents have a unique set of challenges in a crisis. In your response to these challenges, consider how you can show the most care and support for working parents. At the end of the day, showing care will improve employee engagement and help your workforce feel supported in and out of work.