Providing support to working parents doesn’t stop at creating an excellent parental leave program. As back to school approaches for working parents, we have to be thoughtful about the perks we provide our employees. Keep reading for a deep dive into how you can help mothers, fathers, and other child caregivers on your staff.
Why Back to School Is Difficult for Working Parents
Back to school is a complicated time for many working parents. There is so much to do and new routines to learn. New school years typically bring new afterschool activities and experiences that kids want to be a part of. Parents want to be able to say yes to their children. Working a 9-5 while kids are getting adjusted to their new schedule isn’t always a walk in the park.
Eventually, busy parents learn to balance responsibilities and get back to normal at work, but you can probably expect the first few weeks of school to be rocky.
7 Ideas to Make Back to School Easier for Working Parents
Having employees with families is amazing. Employees have families when they feel financially and emotionally supported. It’s a great sign that your organization makes employees feel safe. So, how can you improve this experience at work? Here are some ideas to help get you started.
1. Give Employees Flexibility While They Figure Out Their New Schedule
During the first few months of the school year, flexibility should be your top priority. Consider letting employees work from home or create a hybrid work environment for employees during this time.
Encourage working parents by adjusting your late policy as parents get their children acclimated to going back to school. Working parents shouldn’t have to feel rushed if they aren’t needed for an important meeting.
You could also adjust leave policies to ensure that parents have time to pick up their kids and get them proper care. During this time company parents might have a split schedule (for example, parents might work 9 AM-3 PM and 7 PM-9 PM.)
2. Let Working Parents in Management Tell Their Story
Employees model what they see. If your team sees employees talking about their families and adjusting to their kids going back to school, it will help them own their stories.
For instance, you could start a thread in your company’s digital community space around being a working parent and what you are doing to start the school year. Shared learning is a great way to get other leaders to share their stories while making these conversations public for the entire company to see/hear.
3. Provide a Dependent Care-Focused FSA
Flexible spending accounts or FSAs are a great company perk. There are several FSA options, including medical, dependent, and home office FSAs.
If you have an FSA program, consider adding a dependent care component so that working parents can spend money on their children. Many dependent care FSA options give working parents the ability to pay for before/after school care, babysitters, daycare, summer camps, etc.
Using a flexible spending account is great because you get to contribute pre-tax dollars. This is a helpful arrangement for parents because they were already paying for childcare, now they get to pay fewer taxes because they use an FSA.
4. Create an Employee Resource Group for Working Parents
Employee resource groups are another fantastic employee perk. Working parents can learn so much from each other if they work together. ERGs create networks among your employees. For instance, an ERG for working parents might help set up a babysitting schedule, parties for kids, or any number of activities. We all need a bit of a helping hand sometimes.
5. Send Out a Fun Gift for Working Parents
Who doesn’t love a fun gift to start the school year? If you want to support your working parents, send them a useful gift to get them excited. Here are some interesting ideas your organization can use:
- Week of laundry service.
- Gift card to their favorite restaurant or delivery service.
- Basket of snacks the family can enjoy.
- School year planner to keep everyone’s activities straight.
- Date/solo night out for parents on your team.
Anything you can do to treat your parents as they are going through transitions at home is wonderful.
6. Encourage Managers to Chat With Parents About Their Current Workload
It can be challenging to mention what you need help with. Your working parents might be drowning in back-to-school activities, and their managers might never know. Instead of letting your parents suffer in silence, encourage managers to reach out proactively.
Keep tabs on when your employees’ kids go back to school. Then, right before they go back to campus, encourage managers to talk with their working parents. Ask questions like:
- What do you need from the company to balance your current workload?
- Are you in need of any financial assistance or resources to help you take care of your family right now?
- When would be a more convenient time for you to start and end work while your kids are in school?
- Are there any processes that you do manually that we could automate to save time in your day?
- What have other companies done in the past that made you feel more supported as a parent?
7. Make Sure Employees Know You Are There for Them
Above all else, your employees need to know that you are there for them. Parenting isn’t an easy task and, amazingly, your employees trust their job enough to have kids. How can you further show your team that you are there for them no matter what?
As parents get ready for back to school, send them a quick video or message showcasing your support. Make sure that you’re letting your team know about all the help and resources that are available to them. Show up before they ever need to ask you for something.
Back to school time shouldn’t be challenging for working parents. Companies should be willing to give a little as parents and their children adjust to new routines and schedules. Your parents need your support during this time of the year.
One of the best resources you can offer mothers and fathers is a resource group dedicated to working parents. You can use Workrowd to offer this community to your team. If you are interested in our software, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if we’d be right for your team.