When you were a kid, back-to-school time was likely not your favorite part of the year. Now that you’re out of school, however, the original stigma associated with September has faded away and the coming of autumn is, for many professionals, just another change in seasons.
Of course, for some employees, the stress associated with a new school year doesn’t go away, it just changes. Staff members with school-aged children are faced with a slew of challenges when their kids return to school. Scheduling conflicts, sick days and other parental obligations that are often omnipresent can clash with the increasing demands of the office. Fortunately, this tension doesn’t have to exist. There are some things you can do for your working parents that can help smooth the back-to-school transition for everyone.
If you want to improve your grades in “employee flexibility” on your next report card, consider these tips and clever HR solutions.
Back to stress
If you thought having to go to school as a kid was rough, that’s nothing compared to the responsibilities of having a child in school as a parent. Everyone knows that school supplies are growing increasingly more complex (and costly), and having multiple kids at various grade levels can wreak havoc on scheduling, carpooling and other time-sensitive daily tasks.
In fact, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, around 50 percent of working parents surveyed indicated that the start of a new school year was disruptive to their professional life in some capacity. Even worse, 25 percent don’t feel like their employers are empathetic enough to the unique challenges parents face that can occasionally clash with the regular working day.
It’s true that there’s no magic lever you can pull to make being a working parent easier, but one hugely important thing you can offer is flexibility. Scheduling issues are a major part of the stress experienced by employees with school-aged children, so consider policies that emphasize flexibility rather than rigid scheduling. If your company is one of the many that’s embraced telecommuting in recent years, it’s a great opportunity to dust off your work-from-home rules so your employees can maximize their work and family time. Similarly, you may want to consider flexible hours for jobs that permit such an approach.
Any assistance your company can offer its working parents will be a welcome reprieve. This doesn’t have to be major – even something as simple as a childcare referral directory can be enough to let your employees know that you’re sensitive to their situation and on their side.