The pandemic has been stressful – to say the least.
However, for employees who have been thrown into a new work model that requires them to work from while juggling other responsibilities, this stress is off the charts.
I understand that this pandemic has probably not been easy for your business either.
Most businesses have either had more business than they could manage or teetered on deciding to close the business because of mandated shutdowns.
Regardless, employees often carry these stresses silently because they don’t want to add any additional stress to your plate or be perceived as whiners.
It is difficult for those of us with grown children to relate to a young mother with toddlers. Much less a young employee who is trying to manage the kids and work while at home.
Most of these mothers welcome work from home options – at least when the kids are in day-care.
However, daycares have closed or have limited hours and services for many of these young families.
My daughter is one of those young mothers.
She has 2 and 4-year-olds. Both are very active toddlers that require constant attention. When neglected, these children become mischievous.
My daughter has done a pretty good job of using activities and “screen” time to occupy the kids while trying to work, but it has been difficult.
She is fortunate enough to have a husband that helps when he gets home from work.
But what about those mothers or fathers who are single and bear all of the parenting responsibility.
A desperate situation.
As employers, we need to set aside our own problems and try to help our employees as best as we can.
Remember, this pandemic will be in the rearview mirror at some point. And that is when you want a workforce that feels valued and supported so you can resume business as you knew it (pre-pandemic).
6 Ways To Help Young Parents Who Are Working From Home
1. Promote Work-Life Balance
An easy trap to fall into when managing remote workers is assuming they are at your beck and call.
For instance, try to set a standard to not communicate with employees (unless it is an emergency) between 6:00 pm and 8:00 am.
This much-needed pause can allow employees to focus attention on home responsibilities.
2. Help With Child Care
Parents are struggling with juggling child care and work.
Partner with these parents by adding an employee benefit to help pay for tutors, babysitters, or virtual children’s programs.
If your business has onsite child care that is allowed to open, offer reduced fees so parents can participate.
3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
I used to tell employees that “I can’t fix it if I don’t know it’s broke”.
Use your influence to try to help employees overcome the barriers to getting the job done.
Encourage employees to share their challenges so you can help resolve them.
Listen to what they need and try to accommodate these temporary needs as much as possible.
For instance, if a young mother can have a grandma babysit in the evening, adjust her work hours to work when babysitting is available.
4. Be Flexible With Zoom Meetings
Zoom calls have become the new way to have staff meetings.
Be flexible with your team and try to accommodate family conflicts.
Find a few hour window and schedule zoom calls within that time slot. This will give young parents some parameters to manage the kids.
For instance, create a schedule that zoom calls will happen between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For those rare times, when a young parent has to miss the call, record the call so the employee can participate later.
5. Support Mental Health
The pandemic has taken its toll in many ways. Mental health issues associated with dealing with the pandemic is not to be underestimated.
The CDC reports that:
In June, 2020, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder (TSRD) related to the pandemic† (26.3%), and having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%).”
If you offer mental health services, take this opportunity to make employees aware of your health plan’s services.
Have an honest conversation and ask employees to share their challenges related to stress or other mental health issues.
Many won’t speak about it but do your best to make employees aware that help is available if needed.
6. Encourage Vacations
Vacations are the best way to clear an employee’s head and work related stress.
Hopefully your business offers a flexible PTO program that offers paid time off of work.
Despite the challenge of an employee not being available to you, encourage employees to take some time off.
Support the vacation by providing some gift cards for carryout, games to play with the family, or a subscription to a favored streaming channel.
The goal is to let employees know that you recognize this difficult time and to do whatever it takes to help them through this temporary challenge.
Help Them Or Lose Them
An alarming rate of women are leaving the workforce. It is estimated that 865,000 women dropped out of the workforce in September of 2020.
These women have given up their careers because of the insurmountable challenges this pandemic has caused.
Challenges women are dealing with.
According to a recent study, women struggle with the following:
- Lack of flexibility at work
- Feeling like they need to be available to work at all hours, i.e., “always-on”
- Housework and caregiving burdens due to Covid-19
- Worry that their performance is being negatively judged because of caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic
- Discomfort sharing the challenges they are facing with teammates or managers
- Feeling blindsided by decisions that affect their day-to-day work
- Feeling unable to bring their whole self to work
Employers value employees and strive to do what’s best. Take the time to find out what employees need, support their struggles, and help them with the stress, and you may be able to hang on to those difficult to replace partners in your business.
What things are you doing to support your employees during this pandemic?