The Next Big Leadership Initiative: Supporting Your Working Parents


As parents all over the country help their kids ramp up for another school year, a more structured routine is a welcome change for many (if not all) of them whose summers are busy juggling caretakers and camp schedules, vacations, screen time, and trying to make sure their kids don’t forget everything they learned during the prior school year.

But the benefit of getting back to a more consistent routine also comes with the stress of homework, testing, extracurricular activity schedules, transportation, and more.

This stress can also extend into the workplace as parents attempt to re-balance work and family commitments after a long and more leisurely summer schedule.

5 ways to help your working parent employees

According to Pew Research, both parents work full-time in 46 percent of all two-parent households today. However, workplace leaders and managers who show support and offer flexibility for their employees’ families can improve their focus and productivity.

Here are five ways you, as a manager and leader, can help ease your employees’ transition into the back-to-school season and beyond:

  1. Offer flexible schedules – Be aware of working parents’ family commitments and work with them to plan their schedules accordingly. Whether it is allowing an employee to start their day a little later so they can get their kids on the bus or leaving early for a soccer game or practice, be willing to work around priority commitments. Also keep open lines of communication and touch base with your employees often so you can stay ahead of it. This is especially important in the retail, hospitality and food service industries, where a majority of schedules are given only a week or less in advance.
  2. Encourage remote work days – FlexJobs’ recent Trends in Workplace Flexibility study, sponsored by WorldatWork, demonstrated that 85 percent of employers allow telecommuting on an ad hoc basis, 82 percent allow flexible scheduling and 82 percent allow workers to work part-time. This is especially helpful for commuters who may benefit from working from home to accommodate their kids’ back-to-school breakfast or chorus program days. Telecommuting has shown productivity benefits and has reduced absenteeism. In fact, according to Global Work Place Analytics, companies that allow telecommuting report a 63 percent decline in unscheduled absences.
  3. Prioritize quality over quantity – While there are certainly exclusions, worker productivity is determined more by the outcomes produced than the number of hours worked. Where possible, allow employees to manage their time and show trust that they will get the job done. Similarly, some employees are more productive during off hours so as long as employees are delivering results, try not to get too hung up on a hard and fast 9-to-5 schedule.
  4. Focus on wellness – Many parents are short on time for themselves. Companies that offer wellness benefits such as gym memberships, flu shot clinics, and other health-oriented perks demonstrate support and a commitment to the health of all their employees. Parents especially value these benefits as they can help them save time and be more focused.
  5. Respect employee time off – In 2015, more than half of working Americans did not use all of their allotted time off, according to Project: Time Off. In addition, 22 percent of workers said it was challenging to take time off because they wanted to show they were dedicated to their employer. This is detrimental to overall productivity, as studies show that time off can help make for improved employee attitudes and performance. Encourage all employees to use their vacation and flex time and be mindful of their time off so they can truly disconnect and reset.

One step to building a better culture

This is important stuff for today's managers and leaders to focus on.

Working with your employees to ensure they have what they need to be successful –  including peace of mind when it comes to some of the day-to-day parenting stresses – can go a long way to building a better workplace culture for everyone.