Making Work Work for Parents during a time when by all accounts, everyone’s kids will continue to be at home for distance learning with their schools may be a challenge. For some parents, that’s ensuring that their teenage kids are awake and engaged. For those with younger kids, they need to either serve as surrogate teachers or find time to be playmates. Under all circumstances, it can eat into your employees’ productivity and cause friction in their work satisfaction and even lead to attrition. Companies figuring out how to support working parents during this time is entirely unprecedented but not an unexpected issue that companies are contending with. As such our community connected twice to dive deeper into this challenge.
The first Circle|Call was a broader group discussion focused on “how-to” approach the issue, a wireframe of sorts. The second consisted of small group discussions that brainstormed on strategic approaches and tactical programs covering the following specific topics for working parents:
- Performance Reviews + Compensation
- Parent-Specific Benefits and Perks
- Flexible Scheduling, Paid Leave and PTO Policies
- Gathering Data on Working Parents
- Communicating Norms + Expectations
Performance Reviews + Compensation
- When thinking about what components of reviews can “wait” during this unprecedented time, consider eliminating the ratings components rather than those related to career growth.
- Consider shifting performance reviews to longer-term, career growth-focused discussions.
- The decision to grant the compensation bump (bonus, salary increase, etc) across the board due to the extraordinary circumstances – but hard to tell how it will play out 1-2 quarters ahead when other team members have to flex up or the results of possible decrease in productivity.
- Consider revisiting KPI’s and focusing more on objectives.
- Manager education around being thoughtful, flexible, and conscientious of team members.
- A watchful eye on whether flexibility today affects performance tomorrow.
- As more families relocate, relocation compensation adjustment has become a topic of priority for most and in turn figuring out what that will look like.
Parent-Specific Benefits and Perks
- Benefits slush fund – applicable to everyone, but parents could use it in their own way. Use cases range from childcare, mental health, moving expenses.
- Providing a part-time option for parents but working with insurance to say that 20 hours a week qualify for benefits.
- Job-sharing options for parents. For instance: two parents working in the same department and dividing the workload/hours between the parents to create a flexible schedule.
- Non-monetary ideas:
- Weekly Virtual Program Hour: led by the People team and along with employees. A palace where parents can share resources with each other or you can host subject matter experts from your existing vendor partners
- Portal on companies website just for parents with resources and ability to connect with one another
- Cultural Shifts, i.e.:
- Promote Slack Channels where team members share their hours of availability
- Break during lunch hour for the entire company. Not only setting it but adhering it to, which goes for any cultural shifts in place.
Flexible Scheduling, Paid Leave and PTO Policies
- Flexible hours for parents as long as the output is there and it works for the team (i.e. off Friday’s on Sunday’s).
- Flex scheduling may not be possible for all roles, but being open for the ones that will work, and hiring across time zones to equip teams if needed.
- Floating holidays.
- Forcing both management and hourly employees to take a specific day off, like Fridays, to ensure employees are not actually working on their “PTO”.
- Getting legal counsel on whether PTO + sick leave should be separated. As well as possibly taking a look at redefining what “flexible hours” means for your company.
- Create a Leave of Absence policy/option. Although most companies are finding that this may not be a popular option for parents or caregivers, in the end, it provides a sentiment of support.
- The general consensus is that the goal is to create a policy or benefit that will keep the employee engaged in some way (attrition and rehire can be more costly).
Gathering Data on Working Parents
- Potential sources of data:
- Benefits providers can share who has dependents
- Voluntary internal survey with questions like # of kids, age groups, biggest pain points, unique family needs:
- For surveys, use inclusive language to hear from other types of caregivers (for aging parents, other family members, an ill partner, etc).
- Certain questions could get dicey and fall into protected categories for workplace discrimination, such as whether you’re caring for people with special needs / mental illness, whether you are a single parent or have other help at home, etc. Solicit input from counsel before sending anything out.
- Once you have data, develop detailed personas so that you can evaluate programs, perks, and resources based on unique sets of needs.
- Think about how to be proactive with helpful things you can do for parents today vs. reactive and reliant on them taking time to give you input via an extensive survey when they’re already strapped for time and energy.
Communicating Norms + Expectations
- “Talk to your manager” doesn’t work for everyone – consider a more centralized process for soliciting employee concerns and needs. Depending on many dynamics on both sides – levels of trust / comfort, seniority + experience, biases, and opinions on what is reasonable – the immediate manager approach can result in major inconsistencies.
- Important to consider both what you do and what you say – leaders need to demonstrate and communicate norms around how to set meetings, expectations for deadlines, etc.
- There are tough calls to make between being kind to people and running a company day-to-day that is responsible for hitting its targets.
- Biggest misses identified by community members:
- Not communicating enough / at all
- Communicating only when there were big changes
- Best practices identified by community members:
- Develop a regular cadence for updates via email, virtual meetings (AMAs, town halls)
- Equip your managers – specific communication and training for this audience is key
- Make finding resources really easy for everyone