How to Support Employees With Children During the Pandemic

During these unprecedented times, many of your employees face challenges both in taking care of themselves and in getting their work done. All of your employees need your open communication, understanding, flexibility, and support as they keep themselves and their loved ones safe — but employees with small children need particular care. Keep reading to understand more about the challenges these employees face and how you can help them succeed — and how they, in turn, will keep your business thriving.

What Working Parents Are Up Against

Generally, employers require parents to arrange for childcare during working hours, whether the employee works from home or on-site. Taking care of children, especially very young children, is a demanding job in itself, and no one can reasonably supervise children while focusing on work tasks for long lengths of time.

However, during the current pandemic, all the support structures in place have vanished. Schools have closed, and daycares and summer camps may be closed or at limited capacity. Backup caregivers like babysitters or extended family also may not be able to help out — especially if they’re worried about their own health and need to self-isolate.

Currently, working parents have to make things work on their own. If their jobs can be done remotely, they’re attempting to do their jobs from home — with all the difficulties that entails — while also supervising their children. This puts them in an impossible position of trying to do two full-time jobs at once, but they simply have no alternative.

Additionally, if your employees’ jobs cannot be done remotely, they may not be able to physically come to your business’s location if no one is available to watch their children. This means their availability will be unpredictable, and they may have to take time off entirely and lose income. They may also worry about bringing germs home to their family from the workplace.

What You Can Do to Help

Your employees with children need your help, and you can make their lives easier during the pandemic. Follow these tips to help them get through this crisis.

1. Be as Flexible as Possible

Right now, all of your employees likely face difficulties, whether they’re caring for an aging parent or trying to keep themselves from infection. However, parents of small children particularly need flexibility.

If your employees’ jobs allow them to choose their own working hours, make sure they know they can do so. You can set some non-negotiable times when they need to be available, such as for an important meeting, but whenever possible let them work when they can find the time. This will allow them to trade off childcare duties with a partner if they have one and to get things done when their children are sleeping or playing.

Additionally, if your employees must come to your location to do their work, be as accommodating as possible if your employees must take time off unexpectedly. Since childcare structures are nearly nonexistent, your employees may not have a choice about whether or not they have to stay home with their children.

2. Dial Back Your Expectations

Even if your employees have a flexible schedule, they’re still trying to do two jobs at once. Even stellar employees will struggle to be as productive as they used to be.

Communicate with your employees to see what their situation is and how they’re handling it. Encourage them to be as realistic as possible in assessing what they can reasonably do in the time they have, and adjust your expectations accordingly. You may have to cut back on nonessential work and push back deadlines, but you’ll be better off for knowing exactly what can and can’t be done in advance.

As you help all your employees with children, make sure to be clear about what tasks, projects, or deadlines are crucial and what can wait. Additionally, while working parents particularly need help, make sure to follow this process with all your employees, who may face their own pandemic-related challenges.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) offers paid leave to certain individuals and is in effect through the end of the year. It allows for paid leave for individuals who are sick with COVID-19 or caring for those who are sick or quarantined. Additionally, it allows for paid sick leave for employees who must care for children if childcare providers are closed due to COVID-19.

Not all businesses are covered by the FFCRA, but many are. Make sure you know what provisions of the law apply to your business, and make sure your employees know what their options are if they need them.

How Supporting Your Employees With Children Helps Your Business

Your employees, including those who have young children, are your business’s greatest asset. Their hard work and dedication make your company thrive, and this is your chance to support them in return.

Companies that treat their employees well during the pandemic will earn those employees’ trust and loyalty, which will, in turn, keep their team working hard for the business. Those employees will also help you attract new talent in the future by sharing their positive feelings towards the company with their network.

However, if workers feel that their employers aren’t offering them reasonable accommodations, they will be much more likely to leave as soon as economic circumstances allow. Those employers will lose talent and institutional knowledge, and their reputations could be affected.

As you work with your team during the pandemic, keep the specific needs of working parents in mind and do what you can to help — your business will be better positioned to thrive during and after the crisis with careful attention now.