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.
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.
Childcare and education are critical factors for successfully restarting business operations. Parents are entering the new school year feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and abandoned, explains The New York Times. Only 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 survey. For 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 full–time 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 Care.com, 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 office. In turn, organizations will see better company performance.
Many organizations across Southeast Michigan have been supporting parents during this time. In 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 productivity, engagement, and performance.