Helping Parents Strike the Right Summer Balance

Helping Parents Strike the Right Summer Balance

For many parents, the arrival of summer can signify more than sand, surf and scheduled vacations. It can also mean the recurrence of annual work and childcare struggle, especially for families with school-aged children.

For many parents, the arrival of summer can signify more than sand, surf and scheduled vacations.

Not only can finding the right childcare be stressful, but it's also becoming more expensive. With limited options for low-cost or free camp programs available, finishing work and still having the time to pick up children or go home to spend any time with them can be a daily struggle.

How organizations promote balance

Childcare is gaining traction as a non-traditional employee benefit. While most employers don't have the space or resources to build an in-office nursery like some large companies, there are other ways to accommodate working parents. Consider partnering with the local child-care organization via subsidized childcare or pre-negotiated prices for specific timeframes.

If on-site and subsidized childcare aren't an option for your organization, there are still other ways HR leaders and business owners can support parents during the summer months.

Think: flexibility, flexibility, flexibility.

Amy Freshman, senior director of global HR, encourages leaders to prepare ahead of time for the summer months. "Leaders and HR should be planning for workers to request additional flexibility. Engage with your teams as early as possible ahead of the summer months to check in on their employee's needs. Leaders can work to balance out their teams to ensure the employees have the flexibility they may need while the clients are taken care of."

Consider implementing a work from home policy for the summer months that would allow parents to get their work done on their own schedule instead of mandating specific in-office hours that make daycare non-negotiable. If specific roles cannot be done from home, consider offering a flex scheduling option that would allow employees to come in early or late to accommodate a childcare option that works for their family and their budget. Another option to help offset childcare costs is to consider offering daycare or camp scholarships for qualifying families.

Freshman also says leaders should show empathy and stay connected with employees through the summer months. "Even when there is flexibility provided, it is likely stressful for your employees to manage this time of year. And don't forget to check in, too. Engage with them to hear how flexibility is working out and ensure they have what they need to juggle all they have on their plate (professional and personal)."

Why family balance should matter to HR leaders

A sheer lack of options can lead some working parents to take desperate measures during summer months. The number of "latch key kids," or children who stay home alone for long periods of time, can soar during the summer months. This can be very unsafe for children. Parents should never have to sacrifice safety because they just don't have the help they need.

While your organization doesn't need to invest in building a full-scale childcare facility on-site to keep parents and families safe during the summer months, a revision of your policies to support both work and family obligations for working parents can yield big dividends. Parent-friendly policies are a powerful tool to help keep your employees engaged, productive and coming to work.

Freshman encourages leaders to lead by example. "When your teams see you prioritizing family and managing your home lives along with your professional lives, it goes much further than just talking about it. Showing your employees family balance matters has a direct impact on their desire to stay longer and put more care into the work they do. Business owners and HR leaders who recognize this connection will be more effective at attracting and retaining top talent."

Without the ability to balance their work and family responsibilities, your workforce could become disengaged or even flee to work for competitors who offer more flexibility. Encouraging employees to find balance and offering them support to make that balance possible, especially in the summer months, may help pave the way for happy employees and continued success for you organization.

For a deeper dive on creating a great employee experience, check out the guidebook, The employee experience: Making it work for you and your people.

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