New School Year: How Employers Can Support Parents

mother working from home while child jumps on couch

Employees across all industries have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As many organizations transitioned to remote operations, parents helped their children adapt to remote learning. Now, as a new school year approaches, parents are facing many challenges.  

The challenges  

While remote operations have introduced greater flexibility into hectic schedules, challenges for working parents remain. An estimated 70.5 percent of women and 92.8 percent of men with children under age 18 are working, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Parents are a significant portion of the American workforce who must now balance work responsibilities and daily childcare during the upcoming school year 

The Detroit Regional Chamber conducted a survey among Southeast Michigan Employers to better understand their concerns 

    • 74 percent of respondents are concerned with productivity as those with childcare responsibilities adjust to managing work and changes to education  
    • 72 percent are concerned some employees at their organization will not fully return to work as the school year begins, due to childcare responsibilities.  

The impact  

Childcare and education are critical factors for successfully restarting businesoperations. Parents are entering the new school year feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and abandoned, explains The New York TimesOnly one in seven parents said their children would be returning to the classroom full time this fall, leaving few childcare options for the majority, according to a recent surveyFor most students, remote classes will require hands-on assistance from parents at home. For parents who once relied on family members, neighbors, nannies, tutors, etc. to manage childcare, they will be taking on this major responsibility while simultaneously juggling their fulltime career 

This added stress on top of an already overwhelming situation is having a negative impact on employee health and well-being. Nearly three-fourths, or 73 percent, of parents say they plan to make major changes to their professional lives to accommodate the lack of childcare, according to a recent survey from, and about 15 percent of those are considering leaving the workforce altogether. 

How employers can support parents  

Reliable childcare and education strategies will help employees be productive, present, and engaged whether they’re working from home or their officeIn turn, organizations will see better company performance. 

Many organizations across Southeast Michigan have been supporting parents during this timeIn fact, 83 percent of survey respondents agree that their organization is aware of the needs of employees with children as the school year approaches. Below are employer strategies to help parents manage work responsibilities and childcare this school year.  

    • Be flexible – Understand that during the typical workday, parents will need to spend time helping their children with remote classes. Being flexible and supportive of employees who need to adjust hours to accommodate children will send a positive message to your workforce. In fact, 84 percent of working parents say flexibility is the most important factor in a job. 
    • Communicate frequently – Connect with parents frequently to see what concerns or pain points they may be having. Ensure they have everything they need to stay healthy, engaged, and productive, explains the Society or Human Resource Management (SHRM) 
    • Organize a parent support group – Create a network of parents within your organization so they can learn from one another. By leaning on the experiences of other parents, employees will be better equipped to manage work responsibilities and childcare. 

If employers can be flexible, understanding, and supportive of working parents throughout the school year, the workforce will experience better productivityengagement, and performance.