The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that parents’ physical and mental health dip a year into the pandemic. Surprisingly, 82 percent of fathers expressed needing more emotional support—higher than mothers, with only 68 percent saying they needed more. Another important finding is that about 48 percent of parents said that their stresses increased due to the crisis, and more than three in five moms and dads with kids who are home for remote learning said the same thing.
We don’t need formal studies to know that the COVID-19 crisis has been challenging for parents. It’s been hard to navigate the physical, financial, emotional, and mental toll it has taken on all of us, parents or not. And while business owners and bosses may have problems of their own, to be a true leader is to dignify and honor the humanity in everyone—regardless of their position in our company. That means finding ways to extend support where we can and help them, even if schools are opening up again, especially since we never know if schools have to shut down again depending on how the pandemic goes.
Parenthood is challenging, all the more amid raging virus outbreaks. Here are some ways business owners and managers can help support employees with kids during COVID-19.
Encourage work-life integration
Since we live in the new normal, it’s more about work-life integration than it is about work-life balance. This means helping employees improve their overall well-being so that their performance at work can be enhanced and improved. Here are some ways to help your employees with kids achieve this:
- Allow them some flexibility in their work hours, with the acceptance that we live in a time when our personal and professional lives are inherently blended and blurred. This may look like allowing certain team members to start their workday a bit later or letting some people take one or two days off.
- More than seeing their personal and work lives as two separate entities, encouraging work-life integration reminds everyone in the team, including yourself, that life is more than just about work. In a time like COVID-19, it’s not that hard to embrace. Consider inviting mental health experts to talk to your team about how they can keep their sanity. At the same time, we navigate a post-pandemic world and how they can healthily maintain their productivity and output despite the challenges.
Support them in their tasks
Some companies have extra tasks and requirements from their employees. For example, construction companies often require workers to have updated licenses before they can practice and work. If your business is the same, help your employees as they navigate online contractor training schools to earn their stripes again. Provide financial support or allow them some time out of the week so that they can focus on studying and training. The sooner they can get these side tasks done, the sooner they can focus on their core responsibilities.
Plan a “bring-your-kids-to-work” day
Before, this grand tradition was more about fun and socialization, but it might be more about necessity during a pandemic. Now that kids across the United States will be vaccinated soon, your employees may have more incentive just to bring their kids to work, especially if schools have to shut down if there are infections or if they can’t find a sitter. Consider setting up one of your conference rooms as a makeshift daycare for your employees’ kids—incorporate some toys and books for them to play with. Your employees will be grateful that they have an option for when they can’t find a daycare sitter at the last minute.
Communicate well with them
There is a way to communicate the company’s needs without making your employees feel inadequate in already turbulent times. Be honest about where the business is lacking and how you might need their help, and why you are invested in helping them be at their optimum during these times. Apart from just telling them what you need, be open about how you intend to help them help you achieve these goals. Let them know that you are in this together and that every member of the staff can work together to achieve the mission and vision of the company.
And lastly, helping your employees with kids is not just about helping boost their productivity; we do it because it’s the right thing to do. Be a trailblazer and servant leader, and your employees with kids will look back on this time one day and be grateful that they had understanding managers and superiors.