With fall coming, the journey back to school is changing the lives of many parents and grandparents. Households that have two parents working, which is over 64% of families, are being faced with having kids home full-time or part-time during this school year. This means that many parents are evaluating whether to stay in the workforce, in April only 6% were thinking about leaving the workforce and now that number is over 20% and climbing as more schools become remote. The lack of childcare options available and the burden it places on parents, especially mothers, cannot be ignored by businesses. The cost of turnover in the workplace is high, so businesses need to start taking immediate steps to support working parents to avoid losing employees.
If you have a very small business, consider working with your employees directly to help support a shared-care system for children that are younger than school age and for after school care. Consider offering your employees free membership to services like Care.com to help them more easily find qualified childcare. Whatever you can do as an employer to alleviate the time and mental stress of sourcing childcare solutions.
Mental health is also being strained as parents are being faced with these tough choices and new situations. As of June, women are 2.5x more likely than men to feel that that mental wellness is a challenge as a working parent. Mental health has a direct relation to productivity, recent studies estimate that there is a large cost and employers are losing billions per year as a result. To relate this more directly to the impact on your business, unanticipated absenteeism directly and indirectly related to workplace stress costs approximately $602 per worker per year, according to the American Institute of Stress. To support your working parents’ mental health, invest in having an EAP and consider promoting things like a membership to Calm. Giving your employees the right tools to succeed needs to be coupled with a change in your culture to encourage better work-life balance and adoption of the tools offered.
Finally, consider making remote-work and increased flexibility the norm within your business, wherever possible. For some of your employees, they may not be able to come back to work if they are required to be in-office, so you will need to decide whether the retention of your employees or their in-office presence is more important. Historically there has always been some fear that employees won’t be as productive at home, and while survey data doesn’t necessarily support that, you now likely have your own data related to your business and your employees. If you have an employee who was able to effectively perform their job remotely, allow them the flexibility to continue to be remote. These are challenging times, being supportive and flexible will help keep your employees from leaving and will show them how much your company cares.