I sit in a very privileged position whereby a lot of companies and their employees take me into their confidence to ask for advice for situations that they find themselves in.
It has been a week now since many people have returned to work since the festive period break and the new lockdown was announced and it is evident that there are a lot of people in turmoil. I’m hearing of parents who are juggling having their children at home again and trying to home educate as well as trying to do their work and employees are finding themselves sometimes in impossible situations. I’m also hearing how hard it is for workplaces to communicate with their staff and understand their needs.
I thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you with some of the stories I’ve been hearing but importantly some solutions as well.
The Scenarios & the Solutions
Scenario: Parents are burning the candle at both ends and don’t know how to approach their line manager’s
Solution: Be bold. Approach your line manager with a solution. For example, someone recently told me they explained the difficulty they were having to their manager but provided a solution as well. They asked if they could be with their children from 8.30am to 11am and would then start working afterwards. They would aim to make up the time in the evenings or whenever they could.
Scenario: Parents and Carers are finding home schooling impossible
Solution: We all need to stop using the term ‘home schooling.’ We are not home schooling, we’re supervising/helping the children with the work the teachers are setting. It’s putting too much pressure on everyone to live up to expectations that we should be delivering the same experience they’d get in school, which is impossible. Accepting this is very empowering.
Scenario: There is still an unspoken expectation that childcare commitments are falling to the Mum’s
Solution: It is time for workplaces to step up and for working fathers to be vocal about the roles they are playing and lead the way. This is exactly the time that Family networks/ Working Parent Councils should harness their voices and support their members.
Scenario: Line Managers/HR teams are struggling to find a good balance between the need for their teams to reach their deadlines but also understanding the limitations for working parents at this time.
Solution: Remember this is short term. Look to increase parental leave, provide parents AND managers with a toolkit for flexing hours, understanding there are different ‘ways of working.’ Create a resources list for your working parents to use, especially with single parents in mind and those that might have children with additional needs. Your working parents will always remember how you stepped up in the difficult times.
Scenario: Relationships at home are fraught
Solution: Accept that this is inevitable. Make a plan either the night before or the beginning of each day about how responsibilities are going to be shared. Accept that it might not always be even and you may bear the brunt of childcare one day but perhaps not on another. Carve out ‘you’ time every day. If that means waking up slightly earlier than usual so be it. These are unusual times which cannot be compared to. We have to accept that. This acceptance makes it that much easier to get through.
Zoe Sinclair, Owner, Employees Matter
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