Back-to-school season is right around the corner, and you may have already started to notice signs of anxiety among your teams.
This time of year proves challenging for families as they adjust to new routines and try to navigate conflicts with their work schedules, but there are a number of ways that employers can ease these back-to-school anxieties for working parents.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- Why working parents become stressed during back-to-school season
- Why employers should consider assisting the parents and caregivers in their workplace
- Tips on how you can best support employees with children returning to school
Why is Back-to-School Season Stressful?
It’s Emotionally Draining
Toward the end of summer vacation, parents and caregivers often share the nervousness that their children exhibit.
Most children will have to cope with changes in the new school year, including new teachers, classmates, subjects, schedules, and sometimes even schools.
These changes affect not only the children but also the parents who support them while navigating new relationships with other parents and teachers themselves.
All of this is compounded by the concern that co-workers and employers may wrongly assume a lack of commitment to work when extra flexibility is required in order to accommodate the needs of families.
It’s Difficult to Coordinate
Not including extracurricular activities, the average school day lasts between six and seven hours while full-time employees work between eight and nine hours daily: This means that most working parents will have to navigate a daily schedule conflict, either with drop-off or pick-up.
Finding support for before/after school transportation and child care can prove stressful for employees with school-aged children.
The school year often brings about additional financial strains, including before/after school child care and fees associated with extracurricular activities.
Parents may also see an increase in their transportation expenses as they drive their children to and from school and other engagements.
Why Should Employers Provide Support for Working Parents?
Employers who support their employees’ child care needs often find that their workforce can be more reliably present for work.
For instance, when businesses team up with their employees to set a plan in place for emergency backup child care (i.e.: when children are unable to attend school due to illness or inclement weather), they create a course of action that allows parents to handle unforeseen circumstances without needing to miss work unexpectedly.
In fact, 45% of parents report being absent from work due to childcare breakdowns, resulting in an average of approximately 4.3 days of work missed every six months.
The emotional, financial, and logistical concerns of the back-to-school season can be very distracting for employees who lack support from their employers.
Those who work in businesses that support the needs of their children and their families, on the other hand, have an easier time focusing their attention and energy on their work.
Increase Employee Retention
Employee satisfaction and happiness are directly linked to their ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
That’s why employees who feel their needs are supported by the companies they work for will retain a greater sense of loyalty for their place of work and will ultimately stick around longer.
How Can Employers Support Their Teams During Back-to-School Season?
Improving flexibility in the workplace is one way that employers can assist those who have children returning to school after summer vacation.
For many businesses, this may mean opening up limitations on where and when people work by allowing opportunities to work from home.
However, remote work isn’t an option in many industries. If remote work isn’t conducive to your business, we suggest seeking other ways of accommodating your employees’ needs.
As an example, you may offer employees the opportunity to make up time if they want to arrive late or leave early to drop off/pick up their child or support their participation in a scholastic or extracurricular event.
Communicate With Your Employees
Create a space for your employees to be open with you about their anxieties during back-to-school season and initiate conversations with them about the ways you can offer support.
Ask what specific initiatives would help them during this time and work with them to establish a strategy for scheduling adjustments and emergency situations that require backup child care.
Implement Plans and Programs to Assist with Child Care
Offering child care assistance as part of your benefits package is another great way you can support the parents in your workplace.
Things like dependent care flexible spending accounts allow your employees to earmark tax-free money for child care and qualify them for reimbursement on child care-related expenses.
You can also work with your employees to help them find and hire a form of backup child care that is available on-demand or in case of emergency situations that prevent them from attending school.
Supporting the working parents on your team comes down to joining forces on strategy development so that they are equipped to manage their work-life balance and become the most effective parents and workers possible.
Things like increased workplace flexibility, improved communication, and enhanced child care benefits offerings can play a large role in mitigating your employees’ emotional, financial, and schedule-based concerns surrounding their kids’ return to school.
If you’re looking for guidance on how to support your workforce with an adjusted benefits package, contact our team here at FrankCrum: Our HR experts are here to help you select and provide the ideal benefits solution for the needs of you and your team.