The Balancing Act: Balancing the Demanding Jobs of Employee and Parent During Unprecedented Times
COVID-19 has created unprecedented times for everyone. We are all dealing with additional stress, uncertainty, and new work expectations. Employees, who are parents or caregivers, are now finding themselves balancing full-time careers with childcare and homeschooling. Employers are having to support employees that are juggling new and evolving stressors. Finding a balance may feel impossible and overwhelming, but we believe it is the shared responsibility of employers and employees to try to strike a balance. We have compiled a list of tips on how both employees and employers can support this balance.
Tips for Employees:
1. Set a Schedule - Begin creating your schedule by accounting for set requirements, this will include meetings, appointments, and live classes. From there create a daily schedule that allows for extended periods of work and/or school. You may need to repeat this process daily or weekly to accommodate changing schedules. Make sure to share this schedule with your household to set clear expectations and maintain accountability.
2. Communicate - Communicate frequently and openly with your employer and/or team. Open communication will allow teams and employers to account for delays and plan around any interruptions.
3. Prioritize - Be present -- By taking on one task at a time you will be more efficient and avoid overtasking yourself.
4. Start Early – If possible, try to get a jump start to your day, preferably before your kids wake up. This will give you extra productive time to organize and prioritize your work.
5. Support Independence – Support independent play and learning activities. Look for our upcoming blogs on learning resources, virtual STEM activities, and virtual field trips.
6. Self-Check – Don’t forget that you are only one person, so take the time that you need to take care of yourself and your physical and mental health. As Maya Angelou said, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
Tips for Employers:
1. Communicate – Openly communicate expectations. Employees may need additional flexibility, so work with employees to set up reasonable expectations that are accompanied by specific milestones. Based on the individual, some employees may benefit from additional communication and more frequent milestones, this will allow you to provide additional support or offer other mitigation strategies if needed. Additionally, consider your communication accessibility, make sure that you are both available and approachable. This will encourage employees to communicate any issues or concerns early on and foster teamwork and collaboration.
2. Flexibility – Consider allowing flexible work schedules. This may not be realistic for all jobs, but this flexibility may support more productive morale and efficiency.
3. Evaluate – Evaluate company policies to make sure that they support employees and meet the requirements of updated laws.
4. Actively Engage – Prioritize developing a strategy for accommodating your employees' requirements. This may include developing a new schedule together, modifying expectations and job requirements, and providing additional resources or technology.
5. Support Health – Support the mental and physical well-being of your employees. Actively check-in and connect with employees. Encourage time off and healthy boundaries between work and home.
As we strive to find our “New Normal”, we have a unique opportunity to create relationships and processes that better serve both the employee and the employer. It is the job of both, to actively establish these new patterns and lay the groundwork for a successful today and future for everyone.
Rita Simmons, Ph.D., is the founder and lead consultant of Novelle, where she provides business and research consulting to companies across a variety of industries. Dr. Simmons leverages her drive for innovation and excellence along with her extensive executive and military experience to help companies grow their business, drive revenue, and achieve strategic goals. When you’re ready to take your business to the next level, contact Dr. Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.