Parents who have recently found themselves working from home with kids have had a wealth of new challenges and obstacles to deal with as they navigate the new remote work environment.
COVID-19 pandemic forced many workers to conduct business exclusively out of their home office. Many employees have had to find ways to occupy/teach children who cannot attend school because of the pandemic as well.
This is completely uncharted territory for all of us, but parents have been dealt with some very difficult circumstances and support for parents working at home is needed.
Employers can, and have stepped-up to offer their employees innovative support systems to best maintain smooth operations for their jobs. This type of support is much-needed to help parents maintain their jobs, with children at home. Employers who ignore this will find themselves losing valuable staff.
Parents do not want their child’s educational development — or their career — to be stunted by having to choose between working and being a parent. Support measures from employers are critical to parents working from home with kids.
Working From Home With Kids During COVID: The Numbers
In 2019, of the nation’s 82.6 million families, 81.1 percent had at least one employed member. This means that millions of parents across the country (not to mention the world) have had to adjust their schedules and even strongly consider whether they could continue their jobs under the new evolving circumstances.
43% of parents with children experienced income loss at the start of the pandemic
A study conducted in the early stages of the pandemic by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed that more than 43% of parents living with children under the age of 19 had seen a loss in wages, hours of work, or work-related income.
This means over 43% of the people surveyed had experienced income loss. Or, their partner who is helping to support the household experienced income loss.
Whether they voluntarily cut back on their hours of employment to watch their children or were involuntarily relieved of their positions – this marks a significant financial hit for families.
So what can companies do to help?
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Different Types of Support for Parents
Work from home parents hope to keep their jobs intact, with their children learning from home for the foreseeable future. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for each company in how they can extend support to their employees. Parents with kids of different ages and abilities will need different solutions.
Companies that take the progressive stance towards agile work from home practices and strong family support benefits will set themselves (and society) up for a stronger future once we return to any kind of “new normal.”
But it’s not too late to adapt employee policies that benefit parents who are working at home, with kids learning at home.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for each company in how they can extend support to their employees. So what can they do?
Some benefits for parents working from home with kids learning from should include, but are not limited to:
1. Extended Paid Family Leave
Some larger tech companies, like Microsoft, have offered extended paid parental leave, three months, which can be used at once or intermittently.
Google has extended its paid leave program to fourteen weeks, and workers can choose to extend that even further by taking half days, making twenty-eight weeks in total of PTO.
These are great examples of how very large conglomerates can show empathy and support parenting needs. Some families are being forced to reconsider the pros and cons of having duel incomes, while children need full-time care at home. For many families, sacrificing one income is the lesser of two evils when the costs of full-time private care are considered.
These extended PTO measures could help companies keep valuable employees that may have otherwise considered quitting to support children at home.
2. Assistance With Child Care/Elder Care
Other companies like Target have implemented new paid family leave parameters, and even backup care solutions by Bright Horizons, which is a great service that provides centralized/in-home child or elder care.
This is critical for parents who are supporting children or the elderly and must make the tough decisions between going to work, or taking care of those dependent on them.
3. Virtual Camps
More of a benefit for the summer months when kids are out, but still a great option that companies can offer — especially since homeschooling numbers are “surging.”
Virtual camps are online programs that operate through video conferencing services. These camps allow children to interact and socialize with one another, work on projects, and simulate group activities.
Not only does this provide a great outlet for children to build communication skills with one another, but it gives the parents a break from being the only source of education, socialization, and entertainment.
4. Online Support Groups/Parental Resources
As these are emotionally, physically, and mentally challenging times, parents need to be aware of their child’s, and their wellbeing. Medical groups have set up pandemic support guides, informational resources, and groups to help support families.
Businesses can make these support networks readily available to employees by creating open-access communication with healthcare providers.
5. Help Out With School Supplies
For lots of families, the cost of “back to school shopping” can add up — easily hundreds of dollars for people with multiple kids. While this may not help with the regular care or oversight when the kids are back in class, for companies that can’t afford to break the bank, this is a great way to show you care.
6. Support an Education Nonprofit
Many families — particularly service workers in urban areas — are often caught between going to work or caring for their kids. In addition to supporting their own employees, companies that espouse values of equality can help their communities by donating to an organization that specializes in helping families in times like this.
As we know, Millennials — many of whom are parents — like working for companies that stand for certain values. Make a change in the world, and also make your company stick out for people looking for a good place to work.
In addition to HR benefits, there are technical ways to communicate all of this to potential employees as you try to fill positions with the right people — parents or otherwise.
The benefits and measures that businesses have taken to better accommodate balancing jobs with childcare responsibilities will become just as important as salary and other critical information listed in online job descriptions, as work from home lifestyles develop, and kids are still not back in school full time.
Employers can utilize Google for Jobs to illustrate how their company’s values and procedures benefit working parents
Google for Jobs looks for signals when ranking jobs, and the better aligned the data is for these signals, the better job visibility.
Companies that are aware of these signals and staying up to date with Google’s strategies to build work from home benefits (like childcare) into job description posts, will be best poised to get their message across in job descriptions. Google can help businesses make their parenting support benefits clearly visible for online job search results.
Parents That Are Working From Home With Kids Will Do What’s Best For Their Families
These are unprecedented times for the working world, and businesses will have to make sacrifices and concessions, just as working parents have had to.
In most cases, employees do not wish to leave a company or sacrifice their supporting income, but family comes first. Businesses have a chance to prove themselves caring, compassionate, and empathetic in these difficult times.
Losing quality workers costs a lot of money, and benefits that support families are one way to retain top talent. Unless companies can adapt to what their employees need to keep them engaged/satisfied with their jobs — and balanced with life at home — they could lose them to other companies with more accommodating benefits.