Navigating Back-to-School Season: A Guide for Organisations to Support Working Parents
As summer winds down, a significant event is on the horizon for many families – the back-to-school season.
For working parents, this time of year can be both exciting and challenging.
Maybe their child is starting primary school for the first time.
Maybe they are transitioning to secondary school, a new school or a new teacher.
Maybe their child is feeling anxious about their return to school.
Or maybe they just want to hold their child’s hand as they walk in the school gates.
If you’re a line manager, your role in supporting them during this transition is pivotal and can’t be underestimated.
Supporting your employees through this transition not only demonstrates your commitment to their (and their families’) wellbeing but also contributes to a more engaged and productive workforce.
Here are my top seven tips for creating a supportive and family-friendly environment during the back-to-school season:
1. Embrace Empathy
Showing awareness and empathy at this time of year for your working parents is powerful. Be curiously compassionate about what this time of year might be like for your working parents. Ask how they’re feeling. Ask what they need to be able to navigate it with more ease.
2) Cultivate Open Conversations
Create a space for open dialogue and encourage your working parents to share their needs and challenges. Be understanding and receptive. Listening with empathy not only fosters trust but enables you to co-create solutions that integrate work and family obligations in a more manageable way.
3) Facilitate Flexibility
The school schedule is unlikely to flow with their work schedule. In fact, it might completely clash! During the first day or week of the school term, as a line manager, your ability to facilitate flexibility can make all the difference. Can you offer adjusted working hours? Remote working options? Or simply empower your employees to manage their work around their family commitments? Your role is essential in empowering your working parents to embrace their dual roles more gracefully.
4. Focus On Productivity, Not Presenteeism
Set clear expectations for project timelines and deadlines. This allows parents to plan their work and family commitments accordingly, reducing last-minute rushes and potential conflicts. Focus on productivity, not presenteeism. Not only does this empower people to do their best work – when and wherever that makes the most sense for them – but it focuses on managing people’s energy. Energy is a far better predictor of performance than just time, and your proactiveness in managing clear communication can reduce potential overwhelm and uncertainty. Your willingness to empower productivity could just transform the life of a working parent!
5. Reduce Non-Essential Load
Consider reducing non-essential meetings, emails and communication during the first few weeks of school. This allows parents to settle into their new routines and helps prevent overwhelming workloads during an already busy time.
6. Celebrate Milestones
Acknowledge important milestones in your employees’ lives, whether it’s a child’s first day of school, a transition or even just the return to the school routine. A simple congratulatory message or a flexible schedule adjustment can go a long way in fostering a positive and appreciative atmosphere.
7. Lead by Example
Encourage senior leaders and managers to lead by example. When employees see leaders prioritising family needs and achieving a work-life balance, it creates a family-friendly culture that promotes the wellbeing of all team members.
Supporting working parents during the back-to-school season is an investment in both your employees’ wellbeing and engagement and your organisation’s success. By creating a family-friendly culture, you’re not only showing your commitment to your employees’ happiness but also nurturing a thriving and motivated workforce. Remember, small gestures of support can make a big difference in the lives of working parents and contribute to a positive company culture.
Please share with anyone who manages people in the workplace – let’s make sure working parents are supported when they need it most!