August 18, 2020
The Biggest Challenge That Businesses Are Facing in 2020 and How to Solve It
As we approach the final quarter of 2020 I can predict the number one issue that business are going to face as a fallout from the pandemic: parents at the end of their ropes. That is, your employees who are parents.
We’ve all been through a lot but parents, especially those with young children, have been hit especially hard. Everyone’s life has been upended; multiply the impact for parents by the number of children they have.
As one who has balanced homeschooling with work over two decades, I can tell you that it takes a lot of trial and error, the development of specialized time management skills, and mindset shifts to recognize the rich learning that happens in the margins of life.
I chose this lifestyle, but when it’s forced on you it can be a total shock to the system. A school schedules roll out across the country, parents are getting more and more anxious. They dealt with the uncertainty of last spring. They dealt with a summer without camps. And they are STRESSED about the fall.
Have you ever tried to teach a group of 6-year-olds over Zoom? I have and it’s not easy; it takes very special skills that differ from classroom teaching skills. Do you know how stressful it is as a parent to try compel your active 6-year-old to sit through even 20 minutes on Zoom without getting up or changing their background to a beach scene?
Your employees who are parents are likely not keen on the set-up for this fall. They’d prefer to go to work, do what they do well, and operate at peak productivity. If they haven’t quit yet, they need their jobs. They want to do well on all fronts. They want to nail their jobs and they want their kids to keep learning.
Here are 4 ways you can help support this continued stressful situation to create a win-win for employee sanity and overall company productivity.
1. Be Flexible
In my Work From Home With Kids and THRIVE courses and webinars, I recommend that parents block time for high-concentration work based on the energy level of their household. In other words, they should reserve time to do their most crucial, high-focus work when they are least likely to be interrupted.
This might be at 5 am before everyone wakes up or midnight after everyone else is in bed. Perhaps if their kids are older and engaged in classes it’s during the day.
Peak work time will differ for each individual and it’s important that managers and co-workers recognize that their parent colleagues can demonstrate accountability even on a revised schedule.
2. Minimize Zoom
As I wrote in this article, it’s important to know when video is a truly necessary element of remote-work communication. Evaluate the purpose for each meeting and schedule Zoom with caution.
Asynchronous communication is not always possible but it does provide for more flexibility for parents who are juggling. Phone calls can also offer a more flexible option, as parents might be able to tend to children’s intermittent needs while taking part in a non-video call.
3. Provide Professional Development Dollars to Help Work-Life Balance
When the pandemic hit, we experienced a needed influx of #WFH resources that covered topics like how to structure your time when you’re not at the office, how to set up a background for video conferencing, and how to avoid the refrigerator.
The added WFH elements that parents need are specific skills, mindset shifts, and structures to help them stay sane and productive amidst what could easily be chaos. Make a small investment to help your parent employees succeed. We’ve made our Work From Home With Kids and THRIVE licensing program accessible for companies and individuals, and have launched high-value, low-cost webinars to help your parent employees gain the confidence and skills they need.
4. Provide Learning Resources for Families
Most schools are going virtual this fall and most virtual learning isn’t enough to engage a kid for more than a half a day—especially the young ones.
Has your company considered adding some benefits to specifically support your employee parents who now have to figure out additional ways to keep their kids learning and busy every day? What about some Take-Your-Child-To-Work day types of virtual enrichment?
Last spring, Google gave each WFH employee $1000 toward setting up a WFH office space. Why not do something similar for children’s learning resources? This may be a fraction of the additional money that parents will have to dole out this school year to supplement, but it will send a clear message that you understand their pain and want to support them.
These four tips won’t solve all the dilemmas that WFH parents are facing for this school year, but they will certainly relieve the stress and help your employees who are parents—and therefore your organization—continue to move forward even in the midst of constant change and uncertainty.
Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.