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The Record/ published an article on 8/24/20, State faces looming crisis over child care, which not only affects working parents but also their employers.

Many school districts, more focused on the quandary between remote and in-school learning, are just now looking into ways to provide care for students with working parents. But with social distancing and capacity limits, finding the room to care for schoolchildren has become a huge challenge.

The school situation this fall is anything but normal. Parents are anxious, many facing months of full-time or partial at-home learning. How will they juggle remote work with their children’s need for help with their virtual schooling? Will they have to choose between their jobs and their kids?

Depending on our school systems to solve all of these childcare issues may be unrealistic.

The truth is it’s on employers’ shoulders to make sure parents can continue to succeed at work and at home during these chaotic times. By providing support to employees, companies also win in the long-term with better retention of top talent and a more positive, productive culture.

Companies need to consider plans that include granting employees greater autonomy and flexibility. When possible, companies need to offer employees the opportunity to work remotely. Research shows that remote workers are more productive than those who work in the office, even putting in more hours on average than traditional workers.

That said, if companies truly want to support parents struggling with unusual school schedules, it’s not enough to simply continue work-from-home arrangements, they need to consider these ideas:

-Have a “life comes first” attitude. The lines between work and life are blurred for us all, whether we work in an office or out of our living room. When email, chats and texts can follow us home, it’s no longer easy to find work-life balance.

-Consider facilitating a parental support group, in which employees can lean on each other, trade stories, lessons learned and more.

-Make sure to encourage workers to take time to attend to their own mental and physical well-being. For a job well done, you could reward employees with self-care opportunities, such as an extra day off or a surprise gift certificate for a massage, a trip to the spa or a yoga class.

-Encouraging employees to connect with one another and open up about their experiences helps establish trust. Companies with trusting cultures typically have lower turnover rates and greater engagement and innovation, which also leads to more productive, less stressed and more satisfied employees.

-Reach out regularly to your employees to gauge how they’re coping and to catch any festering problems early on. If an employee is feeling overwhelmed, for example, you may encourage them to take a day off or help them figure out if there’s anything on their to-do list that can be dropped or pushed to a later date.

The truth is we are dealing with unprecedented times and all of us are struggling. If your business can grant employees extra flexibility, the trust you show in them will help build a stronger community, the result being a stronger culture and happier, more loyal employees.

Marzano Human Resources Consulting can help you develop strategies needed to keep your workforce satisfied, engaged and productive during these trying times.

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