How to support your parent employees
during COVID-19

At this point, we’re all feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In what felt like a blink of an eye, many businesses had to reconsider their work-from-home policies and strategies to keep employees and their families safe.

Now working apart, employers are unable to ignore the varied home living situations of their workforces. Children, once only seen in desk photos, are now joining team meetings or can be heard in the background of conference calls. The same can be said about spouses and partners, roommates and pets – who are also now at home. They also can’t overlook the realities many parents are facing as they try to simultaneously manage work and family demands.

This calls for companies to reconsider their work from home approach so parent employees and everyone else, can be more successful during today’s exceptional circumstances. 

Accept fluid schedules

Traditional nine-to-five schedules likely won’t work for parents who are now tasked with caring for and homeschooling their children. Depending on the diversity of families, some parents may not be able to make an early morning meeting, whereas others may find afternoons tough. Others may need to work later in the evening after their children are in bed or on weekends.

Take a more fluid approach to schedules, enabling your employees to find their own way to integrate work and life that best fits their needs.

Focus on productivity

There remains this perception that remote employees work fewer hours. A study found that “remote employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year.” Instead of texting or calling your employees randomly to see if they’re working, focus on the tangible outcomes they are producing. Are they meeting deadlines? Is their work of quality? If yes, you can rest assured your employee is using their time effectively. If not, further discussion may be needed to understand the situation and what they may need to be more productive during their day.

Stay connected

COVID-19 may be forcing us to stay physically distant from each other, but now is the time to stay even more connected. Keep employees productive and projects moving forward by using the tech tools your company offers, or sign up for many currently available for free on the market (i.e., Zoom, Dropbox, Slack). If these are new for you and your team, take time to test out which will work with your team best.

You’ll also want to set up more regular touchpoints so your team can discuss priorities, progress on current projects, challenges and successes, too.

Check in regularly

This is a stressful situation for everyone as we each try to grapple with the new normal. Spend a few minutes several times a week to check in with your employee’s well-being. Ask about how they are feeling about working from home and try to uncover any concerns. For any challenges raised, take time to work together to find a solution or accommodation to ease any challenges.

This is also a good time to acknowledge a job well done on tasks or projects, and celebrate successes with them. Reconfirming that you’re there for them and you’ll get through this challenging situation together as a team is a great way to keep employees engaged and energized.

Respect boundaries

Working from home can blur the lines between work time and home time. It can lead to your employees feeling like they need to work around the clock, which in time, will reduce productivity. To keep your everyone engaged and motivated, encourage your parent employees to establish healthy boundaries between work and home. If there’s a set dinner time or bed-time routine, avoid scheduling meetings during these times so they aren’t pressured to make a choice between work and their family.

During times such as these, your team is relying on your leadership more than ever. Designate your own boundaries and care for your own well-being. This way you can stay positive and focused on the business’ goals, and in turn, you can motivate your teams to do the same.

Have a new parent who's returning to work?

The Return Summit is an online event designed to help parents jump-start their return to work after parental leave

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