For working parents, sending their kids back to school is a big adjustment. These parents have to juggle the demands of getting their children to school, then showing up for work on time. Working parents also may have to coordinate after-school child care until they are able to leave the office. This can increase the stress that these parents feel. Fortunately, your managerial position allows you to help make the transition a bit easier.
Five Suggestions to Support your Employees as Their Children Return to School
Let your team members come in late or leave early when needed. Be sure they communicate their plans in advance so that the pertinent colleagues know when they will be in and out of the office. Also, hold everyone accountable for getting their work done on time. Encourage them to be proactive in fulfilling commitments. This is especially important if they need help finishing something or require a deadline extension. The more accommodations you provide for work-life integration, the more productive and less stressed your team will be.
Inquire About Your Employees’ Children
Regularly ask your team members how their kids are doing in school. Because working parents may be concerned about their children’s transition back to in-person learning, they can be distracted from their job duties. Demonstrating interest in their kids’ progress shows you care about the well-being of your employees’ families.
Give your team members as much certainty about the future as possible. For instance, in addition to anxiety about school decisions, many working parents are stressed about job security. Depending on the situation, your employees may need adequate time to plan for child care, a job search, or other necessity if their work arrangements change. To ease their stress, be as clear as you can about job expectations and performance standards. Share policy changes in a timely manner. Include which decisions are being made and why and plans for what happens next.
Stay responsive and compassionate when talking with your team members. Keep in mind that the transition back to school will not be completely smooth. There will be interruptions during the workday that cause your employees to shift their focus away from their job duties. To help out, proactively ask your employees how they feel, what they need, and if they are comfortable with their workload. Also, normalize discussions about struggle and vulnerability. Plus, ask how you can make things better. Remind your team members to ask for help when needed.
Lead by Example
If you have children, make sure your employees know when you are leaving work early to spend time with your family. This will encourage your team members to follow suit. When parents feel comfortable taking time away from work to reconnect with their kids, they come back more engaged and productive.
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