Over the summer, employees with young children often find their daily routines changing as they seek reliable childcare options while school is out of session. Finding summertime caregivers and balancing family life with work responsibilities can add stress to your employees who are parents. As an employer, it’s important to send the message that you care about your employees’ overall well-being and happiness.
Fortunately, there are ways you can support the parents on your team and assist them in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
A little flexibility in working arrangements goes a long way in alleviating stress over childcare. Here are some policies employers may want to consider.
Flexible hours – Whether you allow parents to arrive late or leave early, take an extended lunch break, or work evenings, flexible hours can be a great policy. Parents juggle many responsibilities. They may need to squeeze in a doctor appointment in the middle of the week, or drive a child to and from summer day camp and other activities. Offering them the option of moving work hours around to best suit their schedule can be a beneficial policy.
Working from home – Sometimes, a great option is to let parents work from home during the summer. If they are needed in the office, offering the flexibility to work from home for at least part of the week – on Fridays, or every afternoon, for example – can often still benefit working parents.
Compressed schedules – Although full-time employees are generally expected to work 40 hours per week, this doesn’t always mean the hours need to be accomplished in five days. Offering your employees the option of working on a compressed schedule, such as four, 10-hour days, can help them find a better work-life balance and spend more time with family.
Help Parents Find or Finance Childcare
Summer is one of the busiest seasons for childcare. Centers fill up fast, leaving many parents scrambling to find suitable arrangements for the summer months. As an employer, you are in a unique position to help parents meet this challenge. Here are a few ways you can help:
Subsidize childcare – Many employers subsidize childcare in some way. Whether this is through a Dependent Care Assistance Plan (DCAP) that sets aside non-taxable income for care expenses, or through vouchers employees can redeem at the childcare center of their choice, the assistance is a valuable employee benefit.
Offer on-site care – Some employers offer the benefit of an on-site childcare center exclusively for employees. This allows children to be close by for the day, giving parents the ability to visit their children and save time during drop-off and pick-up.
Offer backup childcare – If you aren’t able to offer an on-site childcare center, you may still be able to help parents meet their childcare needs by offering backup care. This is a service that gives employees access to childcare when normal arrangements fall through. This can be either in-home with qualified childcare professionals, or in-center with slots at a local center reserved for employees.
Encourage Parents to Use Vacation Days
Summer is the quintessential time for family vacations, but many employees leave vacation days unused. This is sometimes due to an employee’s fear that they might appear lazy and risk losing their job if they take time off. Encourage employees to use their vacation days. It is important to create a work culture that sends the message that it is acceptable to take time off to spend with family, especially in the summer when kids are out of school.
Offer On-site Services
Working parents juggle childcare responsibilities on top of work deadlines and everyday chores. If you are not able to alleviate childcare responsibilities directly, you can still help employees by taking care of their errands. A great way to do this is by offering on-site services such as dry-cleaning or car washing. Some employers partner with other companies to provide services like grocery delivery.
Consider an Employee Assistance Program
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers completely confidential services that help employees with both professional and personal needs. From mental health programs, to time management and life skills counseling, EAPs can offer great value to working parents.
Contact Mazzitti and Sullivan EAP to learn more about how a customized employee assistance program can benefit your company through improved wellness and productivity.