Believe it or not, it’s that time of year. Summer is winding down. Fall is just around the corner and that means school is about to be back in session. (And football…it also means football is back! But that’s a topic for another time.) The preparation for back to school can be stressful for parents who work full time jobs. Summer vacations are a distant memory and now carpools, teacher-parent conferences, and extra-curricular activities consume the mind. While employers don’t have a responsibility, per se, to manage employees’ personal lives, it has become increasingly important for employers to recognize the importance of a work/life balance. And helping employees lessen the burden of the back to school season by being somewhat flexible can earn cool points toward employee satisfaction and employee retention.
With that in mind, here are some ways employers can help:
Remind Employees of Company Policies
Sounds simple, right?? But a little refresher will go a long way in giving parents a peace-of-mind. It can provide parents with reassurance and confidence during what can, otherwise, be a stressful time of year. Parents know that there are times when missing work is unavoidable, so it’s helpful to know when they have paid sick, vacation, or personal time to use. And understanding the rules about providing notice or requesting time off is also important.
Reassure Work/Life Balance Is a Company Priority
It’s highly likely that many of your employees have school-age children. Employers can gain a lot of loyalty from employees if they are proactive in recognizing the work/life needs of their team. Maybe send a company-wide email letting the team know that management is aware of and understands the work-life challenges associated with this time of year.
There are also some city and state laws for “small necessities” which require employers to provide employees with unpaid time off to attend a child’s school-related activities or to take family members to medical appointments. Be sure to consult with your HR team and know any applicable regulations. And be sure to provide those applicable regulations to employees so that they are also aware.
Allow Flexible Work Arrangements (at least for the short-term)
Flexible work arrangements are fast becoming a great way to retain, recruit, and engage employees. This can mean compressed work weeks, work-from-home, job sharing, flex-scheduling, and results-oriented work environments. Allowing your employees to use personal time off during the first week of back to school can alleviate interference with their work performance. If they have to come in late or leave early, allow them to make up lost time by working a little later or working from home in the evenings. The key is to plan ahead to ensure that projects don’t fall through the cracks.
Promote Available Employee Assistance Programs
This can make working parents aware of various types of resources in their communities. If your company provides child care services or referrals for after-school sitters, child care subsidies, or a backup care benefit for when kids get sick or the sitter cancels, make sure that employees are clearly aware of these benefits. Knowing that child care is covered or at least partially so, allows employees to focus on work while they’re in the workplace. Also some employees also offer discounts and employee purchase programs that can help save money on things like tablets and computers.
Managing the work/life balance during back-to-school season comes down to flexibility and communication. By providing the tools your employees need to do their jobs effectively, as well as manage their personal responsibilities at home, you can create a situation where everybody wins.