Kids are not the only ones who feel the pain when it is time to go back to school. Parents are just getting used to their summer routines of babysitters and day camps when they are jolted back to the world of book bags and number two pencils. For employers, there are a few things to consider providing to support them through this transition and throughout this school year.
The most troubling aspect of the school schedule for working parents is making sure someone is home to get younger children on and off the bus. Sure, there are before and after school programs and potentially another parent in the neighborhood that could help with this problem. However, for some working parents this may not be an option. One thing to consider to help alleviate this issue is offering flexible work schedules. This allows the employee and their manager to come to an agreement regarding an arrival and/or a departure time that is different than the standard business hours for the company. For example, a working parent goes to their manager saying they would like to get their elementary school child on and off the bus. The manager would then discuss this with the employee and come up with a possible solution. Through an interactive process, the manager and the working parent come to an agreement that the employee will remain available during the core business hours, even if that means the employee is working from home. Then the employee can work either before the child wakes up or in the evening to ensure that the job is being completed, if needed.
Another thing to consider is if the state your employees works in has a School Activities Leave. Recently, states have started implementing this to allow working parents to attend parent teacher conferences, sporting events, recitals and graduations. Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia have a law on the books that allow parents to take leave for this purpose and if the trend continues, that number will only grow. If employers want to appeal to perspective employees that are working parents or provide another perk in the office, companies may consider getting ahead of the curve and implement a policy like this.
If employers have a large population of working parents and are finding it difficult to accommodate the flexible work schedules and the leave being taken to accommodate child care, companies may also consider providing child care services. Although employers often look at this as an expensive cost, it should also be assessed in the decrease of absenteeism and turnover that it can prevent. If the cost is too much, employers can also consider partnering with a couple of smaller companies in the same area or building to divide the cost between themselves. Companies may consider working out discounted pricing with a day care in the neighborhood for their employees.
As the unemployment rate continues to drop and the harder it becomes to recruit and retain employees, employers may want to consider one of the aforementioned solutions to help ease your working parents back into school.