Jediael Carter Stewart
6 Ways Companies Can Support Working Parents During COVID-19
In a few months, Jamaica will have been affected by the pandemic for two years. That is two years of curfews, two years of working remotely (for some), two years of online schooling, two years of lockdown periods.
Despite this some companies have not adjusted their culture to support employees during this period, especially those with little humans.
While I am mindful that some parents do prefer to not be at home while working, I note that there are some who for some reason are still required to be in the office to complete their job function… in a pandemic… with a highly transmissible virus.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it… there are some job functions that just cannot be completed at home, but come on now, you’re telling me that a usual paper pusher is unable to work from home because “somebody has to be in the office to collect the mail?” Yes, a manager actually said this to someone I know. Despite the many technologies to support remote working some leaders in Jamaican organizations believe that working from home is impractical and their staff cannot get anything done.
But as we navigate this period of uncertainty and newness, companies must start thinking about what the future holds and how they will have to restructure policies to fit into the new mold of how to do business. Here are six ways companies can support parents at this time:
Introduce and encourage work from home. An investment in such a policy is an investment in the way of the future. Embrace the changes, prepare your staff and move on to the future. Unfortunately, however, not all companies have introduced this option which leaves parents to either leave children at home alone (those who are able to be), employ and invite a caregiver into your home, send the child to daycare – all options that leave parents worried about the safety of their child and families, in terms of contracting the virus. It is also an added expense for parents, in a time when finances are “tight” for some households.
Trust your employees to get the job done. A large part of working remotely is the ability of leaders to trust that employees are doing what they need to. Trying to make contact with your employee for every second of the day is not fair to you, nor to the individual, you keep pestering. Trust that the work is being done, don’t waste your time calling to check.
Encourage people managers to be compassionate. We were all thrown into an upside-down world two years ago. Don’t expect your employees to be on the ball at all times during this period. Encourage your managers to show they understand. Have them ask their employees how their children are doing; how distance learning is going; how they’re managing their responsibilities at work and at home.
Be flexible. Working parents need your support and understanding. They may not “clock in” during regular hours because they’re settling the children in the class, or settling the child with an activity. Sometimes the home environment isn’t conducive to a quick chat, or their home is noisy – don’t question what they’re doing or where they are.
Help workers cope with stress. Start an employee support group, giving employees who have children at home the opportunity to meet, share ideas and resources with one another, and talk about their challenges and successes working remotely.
Normalize seeing/hearing children in meetings. Your workers are now at home, be prepared to be even more involved in their home life. Some children, especially young ones do not completely understand the concept of work from home and usually process seeing mom and dad at home as just that. Allowing children to occasionally be in Zoom meetings without awkwardness can relieve the stress of parents participating in meetings as if there aren’t children at home.
This pandemic has uncovered just how human and vulnerable each of us is and requires companies to soften policies that best suit its most precious resource – the people. Those able to recognize this vulnerability and support employees are the complaints that will Foster better employee engagement and have a highly motivated staff.
Wake up Jamaica, the tide has shifted.
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