As we settle in to “back to school” mode, Instagram feeds are filled with adorable photos of kids heading back to classrooms, the parents behind the cameras afraid to exhale for fear school may go virtual amidst the ongoing Covid crisis. All fingers are crossed, and I certainly hope (for my sanity and that of my family) that back-to-school stays that way.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Paulette Jencks, mom of 2, working parent advocate, and start-up advisor, about her take on what parents need from employers right now. She shared: “Parents need a culture that supports and values parents and shows it through actions. Parents are stressed and anxious, especially with the upcoming school year, so having an employer that is actively finding ways to support them through this time is exceptionally valuable.” Further, Paulette recently polled a number of working moms, asking what’s the #1 benefit you want to support you now as a working parent and there were only two answers: childcare, and flexible work options.
Paulette went on to share that small changes can make a big difference: rearranging or reducing hours, allowing for remote work, scheduling meetings only within certain hours, encouraging parental leaves, creating mental health breaks, supporting the use of PTO and unplugging. She prompted: “What happens when you create this type of supportive culture? You get parents who want to work for the company (great talent), want to be productive (great returns) and want to stay (great retention).”
In theory, we want to do it all, but how exactly can we put it into action? Some practical tips and policies are included below.
Offering well-being days off to employees can be a great way to demonstrate commitment to wellbeing while also giving employees an avenue for stepping back from work for a day. For working parents, sometimes you just need a day. There are two ways this can be implemented.
Sample Policy Draft 1:
Employees are entitled to up to 4 [or insert your preferred number here] wellbeing days per year, above and beyond other paid time off policies or company holidays. One wellbeing day must be used each quarter and if not used, it does not carry over into the next quarter.
Sample Policy Draft 2:
There are 6 [insert your preferred number here] company wellbeing days per year. The intent of this program is to reduce the digital noise across the organization and give everyone time to recharge. Dates are published at the beginning of each calendar year. All employees are eligible to take 4 of these days annually. We expect that roughly 60-70% of the company will be out of office on each of these days. Teams should discuss coverage and align on which days each person takes off.
Offering options and support when you need to be at work and your regular child or adult/elder care is unavailable. Back-up care can help to secure babysitters, nannies, housekeepers, and dog sitters, and elder care providers.
Sample Policy Draft:
Employees are eligible for backup care reimbursement in the event of an unexpected school closure, illness of a child, elder, pet or caregiver. Reimbursement is available for up to $75 per day, up to 10 days per year.
What other ways are you supporting working parents? We’d love to hear from you.