3 Ways Employers Can Support Their Workforce (Balancing Your Job, Your Kids, or Your Students)

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As a business leader, you’ve undoubtedly experienced major shifts within your organization and operations due to COVID-19: remote workstyles, parents now working from home and schooling at home, and a lack of social connectivity. A few months into the pandemic, we’ve seen tens of millions of employees across the U.S. adjust to working from home. Many parents now face increasing pressure to balance the demands of their job and childcare – including school re-openings, virtual learning, and daycare capacity.

CLA-OC leaders and other select employers are at the forefront of impacting the standard for work-from-home conditions. Their added focus for nurturing remote talent and supporting students continues with the aim to build a vibrant (and virtual) working community. But the question remains, how can companies better support the health, well-being, and productivity of their employees, especially working parents? Here are a few ways employers can support and balance the needs of their adapting workforce.

Attend to Childcare Needs & Education

Education is constantly evolving and with COVID-19 comes new disruptions brought onto our school leaders, faculty and teachers that working parents are required to adapt to. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor, about 41% of workers between the ages of 20 and 54 have a child at home, and around 30% of the workforce are single parents. In another early Cleo member survey, only 15% of families have had regular access to childcare when stay at home orders went into effect. Lack of childcare has become more significant and challenging to manage as the months have passed. 

But parents are not out of luck. Working parents can turn to their local city, school district and university offerings, as some have prepared immediate guidelines to help them with what they need. The city of Irvine, for example, recently released a resource to help parents balance new work/distance learning routines along with child care programs. Business leaders must have creative communications to share these resources with working parents.

Employers can also provide compensation plans or flexible working hours for childcare and/or tutoring to help close the gap between attentive childcare and a productive working parent (some businesses and families may not be able to afford this option without assistance). There is also an opportunity for parents to leverage smart learning environments and AI-backed education technologies, but employers must first point them in the right direction.

Local universities such as CSUF and UCI, along with nonprofit organizations have curated resources around remote instruction. Visit the links below to learn more.

Invest in Remote Technologies

Before the pandemic, roughly 5% of the U.S. workforce worked from home on a regular basis. However, working from home affects every employee differently depending on their living situation and responsibilities. Employers should invest in resources around internet and data security, such as setting up virtual private network (VPN) for secure network access, or A/V equipment like webcams or microphones. This also extends to licenses for software and platforms to enable the various types of collaboration needed for remote work to be successful. Due to the nature of certain positions, some staff may not be able to work remotely. In these instances, employers must carefully monitor accommodation requests and schedules to help reduce the number of individuals at a facility at one time. 

Tech companies such as Microsoft, Linkedin and Google have organized reliable tech and remote resources available for businesses who’ve shifted to working from home

Promote Pathways For Positive Opportunities

A 2017 survey from the global staffing firm Robert Half showed how workers who are finding balance between their jobs and personal lives are twice as happy, more productive and show greater loyalty to their employers than those struggling to find balance. Employers who provide employees with greater direction and clarity for remote opportunities, especially around employee growth, can significantly influence employee engagement and work-life balance.

Hosting successful virtual internships or development programs can enable leadership to properly support workers or students’ personal and professional growth. For example, CEO Leadership Alliance of Orange County (CLA-OC) recently launched the Orange Fellowship program, where employers allow young professionals dedicated time every quarter to participate in remote leadership and networking opportunities. This pilot program is ongoing and directed towards improving professional wellbeing. Employers will need to provide managers with enhanced virtual tools and resources to make these shifts from traditional forms of management, mentorship, and learning to trusted modes of impactful leadership.

Supporting the individual needs of your employees will undoubtedly go a long way for your organization. Clear and consistent communication around available resources is the best way for company leaders to keep their employees safe and well, while positioning them to achieve their career goals, balance care for their loved ones, and push forward in this new, standard, virtual, working environment.