How Can Employers Support Parents During COVID-19

It’s hard to believe we are six months into the pandemic, what a ride it has been. We have learned a lot of lessons and although it can seem like we have a rhythm down, there are still issues which are plaguing our teams. With all of the changes that came with COVID-19 one of the most impactful has been the increase of pressure on parents of school-aged children who now have to balance work while their child’s school is virtual due to COVID. It seems like it’s not really a Zoom call anymore unless a child bursts in asking a question that cannot wait (like ‘what’s for snack’, ‘do I have to do my work’, or our favorite ‘can they see me’). In other cases, parents are having to take a leave of absence to care for their children as it is not possible for them to work from home.

A great deal of us have turned into administrative assistants for our little ones when we deliver their daily agenda to them at the breakfast table. Parents who are attempting to balance remembering passwords for the ten platforms their children are using, making sure everyone is on when they need to be, and holding down a full-time job can easily feel as though they are drowning.  According to the Wellthy Pandemic Employment Survey, caregiving responsibilities have increased for U.S. workers since the pandemic; 25 percent are struggling. Although 40 percent of 647 employed adults surveyed said the pandemic has not impacted their daily or weekly caregiving responsibilities, 21 percent said it has greatly increased the amount of time spent per day or week on care-related activities.

            With all of this said, what can you as a manager or employer do to help your team, especially if you cannot help with third grade math (not pointing fingers)? We need to make sure we are doing all we can to support parents and that can look differently for every company. ALT HR Partners has a dedicated school room where our children can learn remotely in a socially distanced setting.  If remote work is not possible for your team, is it possible to support them with childcare whether it be in the office or off site? Employers also might consider reallocating money budgeted for team outings or other activities not used at this time and use the funds for stipends for tutoring or childcare.  If your team is working from home, you will need to be more understanding of things not going as smoothly as you may like. Deadlines will sometimes be pushed to their max, but we are all just trying our best here.

            If it is not possible for your team to work from home and you cannot offer childcare, you need to ensure they are offered the proper leave. This is a confusing topic for most and we always suggest taking a partner in order to ensure you are legally compliant. It may seem overwhelming to have half of your workforce out on leave for twelve weeks but we can always hope schools open up soon, right? No matter what you can do, even if it may seem small, just remember it will make your employees feel a little less alone. Employees who feel valued will work their hardest for you and with you and that is something we all need to get through this.

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