Back-to-School Means Stressed Working Parents
The First DayFor an employee whose child is headed off to school for the first time - i.e., kindergarten - this day will be a mix of emotions. Your employee might be worried about whether her child is having fun and making friends, and wondering when (or if!) her child stopped crying after drop-off. An employee whose child is starting middle or high school might be worried about whether he made it to and from off-campus lunch safely and whether he'll catch the bus home on time. Regardless of what, exactly, is weighing on your employees' minds, they're going to be distracted. Set the precedent that it's okay to step out to call their child's kindergarten teacher or send a quick lunchtime check-in text to their high schooler.
The New ScheduleSummer camp hours may have extended from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., but with school starting, your employees' children are likely only occupied from 8 or 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Your employees might also have to deal with the school's half day schedule every now and then, holidays your organization doesn't observe, and the inevitable parent/teacher conference week. Giving stressed working parents the flexibility to handle these things will benefit everyone involved, lessening their stress and increasing their focus and productivity while they're at work.
The Ever-Evolving RoutineWith back-to-school comes a new routine - or lack thereof. Once they leave the office, working parents might be shuttling children to soccer practice, art class, and music lessons, to name a few possibilities. And on top of that, they'll probably have a soccer game, art show, or flute recital to attend every now and then. A flexible work schedule can help them take care of all their obligations, while keeping employees from feeling guilty for not attending said events. However, you'll want to be careful with your push for work/life balance - while some companies tout it, there's an internal stigma among employees who take advantage of it. If you offer flexibility, make sure your employees feel empowered to use it.
The Demand for InvolvementIn addition to their children's extracurricular activities, your employees might have school-related activities they'd like to participate in, like PTA and committee meetings, volunteering in the classroom, class parties, chaperoning field trips, and more. Some will occur during the work day, others in the evenings after work - regardless of when they're scheduled, allowing employees the freedom and flexibility to participate can make a huge difference. Encourage them to take an extended lunch to chaperone a field trip or come in an hour late after volunteering in the classroom.
The Sniffles, Flu, Stomach Bug - You Name itLet's face it - school is a breeding ground for germs, and your employees' children are likely to get sick throughout the year. A flexible schedule and/or the option to work remotely will bring your employees peace of mind, knowing that they can be available, if necessary, to pick up their sick children at school, take them to the doctor, and/or stay home with them until they can go back to school.
Flexibility is essential for stressed working parents. As an employer - and likely a manager of employees with children - do your workforce a favor and help them meet the demands of work, life, and everything in between.