Back to School – How HR can help navigate the transition for working parents

Back to school can be a stressful time for working parents. Trying to get children settled into a new routine while scrambling to fulfill work obligations is no small task. Fortunately, there are a few ways HR can help with this transition and reduce friction.


Offer Flexible Scheduling

A study by found, “More than 40 percent of respondents said they arrive at work late and leave early during the back-to-school season.” This shows that punctuality basically goes out the window during this period. One of the best ways to accommodate the needs of working parents is to offer flexible hours and give them some slack during the first few weeks of a new school year.

Here are a few examples of flexible working arrangements that can help:

  • Allow employees to adjust their schedule so they can come in a bit later than normal
  • Offer shift breaks at specific times parents need to leave the workplace
  • Offer reduced hours during the back to school period

Discuss various possibilities with your staff to see what works best for them. Keep in mind that you won’t necessarily need to offer flexible scheduling year-round. It’s just for a two- to three-week period.


Provide Telecommuting Options

Another effective way to reduce stress levels is to allow your employees to telecommute in the fall. The luxury of working from home gives them wiggle room to be there for their kids while remaining productive. This working arrangement is actually a lot more common than you may think.

A 2015 Gallup report notes that 37 percent of the U.S workforce telecommutes to some extent. This number is likely to keep rising in upcoming years as technology continues to advance. There are numerous software platforms available that can aid in this process and streamline collaboration. Some popular platforms include:

  • Basecamp
  • Asana
  • Wrike
  • Slack

In theory, nearly any digital task can be done from home. Even partial telecommuting can take the pressure off of working parents.


Consider Back-Up Childcare

This is an employer-sponsored benefit where you contribute financially to offer childcare arrangements for your employees’ children. Employees typically receive a designated number of days each year (e.g. 20 – 30), so they can take advantage whenever the need strikes.

Back-up childcare covers the tumultuous back to school period as well as sick days or when schools are closed due to inclement weather. You can learn more about back-up childcare here.

Back to school can be an incredibly difficult time for working parents. Their plates are piled high and stress levels can increase. You can help them navigate this transition by thinking ahead and implementing these tactics. It makes your employees’ lives easier and also reduces tardiness and absenteeism.




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