It’s back to school season again, and it marks the beginning of a very stressful time for your employees who have little ones to send off. Snap polls conducted by Workplace Options found that more than half (63 percent) of employees report that this time of year adds stress to their colleagues who are working parents. Furthermore:
- 35 percent expect back-to-school preparations to produce additional personal and financial stress to their own lives
- One in four (27 percent) reported that the start of a new school year negatively affected the moods, attitudes or schedule availability of coworkers
The added stress of this time of year can cause a slump in productivity and morale, not just for working parents, but for working students as well. However, the best strategy for avoiding engagement slumps is to turn them into engagement opportunities. Here are some resources to help you:
- SHRM’s Dana Wilke provides some wonderful tips to support working parents
- Care@Work’s Five Ways to Help Employees with Kids Going Back to School
- OnDeck’s insightful piece on how small businesses can support working students
- Benefits Bridge shares some great tips on how to handle scheduling during back-to-school
We would be remiss if we didn’t include some tips of our own. Here are some ideas to make the season a little brighter:
Provide breakfast or lunch – Not having to worry about grabbing breakfast or lunch on the job is a small but welcome respite for working parents (not to mention working students) during the busy first few weeks of school. Be sure to let your teams know well in advance so they can plan their schedules accordingly.
Go easy on schedules – Scheduling and budgeting time for their children is a top stressor for working parents. So give them a bit more slack as school ramps up and they’re trying to get everything together for the school year. Have a sincere conversation to work out any conflicts, and remain supportive throughout.
Step up recognition efforts – As always, simply increasing your frequency of recognition has a net positive effect on morale. This is one of those strategic goldmines where you can clearly communicate specific concern for your employees’ well-being. Recognize your working parents in a companywide email, give them a free lunch, or shower them with gifts – whatever you do, make it genuine.
With just a little extra attention and you can mitigate tons of unneeded workplace stress during back to school time, so use it or lose it, as they say. The bell is ringing, so I have to sign off. Here’s wishing everyone a safe and productive school year!