5 Ways to Empower Your Employees Who are Homeschooling

In March as schools and offices closed across the country, many parents found themselves suddenly providing crisis schooling. Back then it seemed unfathomable that homeschooling while trying to maintain a full working schedule would be the reality come back-to-school season.

 But here we are and with millions of school children distance learning, many employees are trying desperately to juggle the demands of maintaining their careers, while homeschooling, and trying to navigate the pandemic.  Here are five ways you can help empower your employees who are homeschooling.

As we’ve all had to make adjustments to our work habits and our lives, it should come as no surprise that many of these tips are focused around flexibility.

Allow Employees to Work Remotely

In some areas of the country, employees are once again returning to the actual office.  With many schools still operating under distance learning and childcare options limited, giving parents who must homeschool the option to work remotely is the best option.  Skylar Hansen, a systems administrator at Randolph College in Lynchburg, VA, shared with us that her employer was allowing employees who had to homeschool the option to work from home. Lynchburg City Schools along with sixty-seven other school districts in Virginia are fully remote at the time of this writing.

Allow Employees a Flexible Schedule

For both positions that can’t be handled remotely and those that can, we recommend a flexible schedule. There are a few different ways you can allow your employees some flexibility when it comes to accommodating employees that need to homeschool their children. The first is to allow employees to use paid time off to shorten their workday or to set aside a day of the week off routinely.  Under the Families First Coronavirus Response  Act (FFCRA), you may be legally obligated to provide paid time off to employees that must provide homeschooling or childcare for their children.

The second way to provide flexibility is to allow your employees to work non-traditional hours. Carin Thomas, a Marriage and Family Therapist at Serenity Health in Las Vegas, NV, expressed the need to work outside of normal working hours due to bandwidth constraints. The Clark County School District is the fifth-largest in the nation and is currently fully remote at the time of this writing.  With two children engaged in distance learning during the day, having enough bandwidth for telehealth appointments is a struggle. So she has had to start scheduling her appointments later in the day and early evening.

Which is a great segue into our next way to empower your employees…

Provide Employees with the Necessary Technology to be Productive

With so much of our daily lives consumed with our electronic devices, it can be difficult to understand that some people just aren’t tech-savvy and they’ve been thrown into the deep end of the pool. It’s vital to continue to provide tech support and the right equipment to keep employees productive. If it all possible, provide all equipment your employees might need and consider including a stipend or allowing employees to expense their internet bill entirely. With entire families stuck at home and all needing the internet for school and work, providing an employee the means to upgrade their internet speeds could go a long way to keeping everyone sane in this stressful time.

Limit Virtual Meeting Times

The whole world might have gone a little Zoom crazy at the beginning of The Pause but now that we have somewhat adjusted, it could be time to start scaling back on your virtual meetings. What!? We said in our 5 Tips to Ease the Transition to Working from Home to set up regular meetings and this is still true. But just like everything doesn’t need to be an email and you don’t need to CC everyone, not everything is cause for a virtual meeting. 

In a recent article, Glassdoor provides some great tips on how to practice “meeting hygiene” as they call it. For helping out your working parents, our favorite tip is to not schedule meetings early in the morning when they are trying to get the kids settled for the day or at lunchtime.

While working remotely, it may also seem like you just have to have a ton of meetings scheduled to prove that you are actually working. That’s simply not the case. Besides the need for flexibility, if there is one other major takeaway from all of this, it is that being busy and productive are not the same thing.

Provide Employees with Childcare Options

Recently Wynn Resorts partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada, to provide childcare with distance learning support for free to all of their employees.  While an operation of this magnitude might not be in the realm of possibility for smaller businesses, there are still options. Remember our focus word is flexibility right? If you are physically back to the office, consider setting aside conference room space to set up as a learning pod for the children of your employees.

Another way to help empower your employees is to cover dependent care under a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). The IRS has recently changed the rules regarding FSAs to allow employees to enroll outside of the typical open enrollment period and change their allotments. Check out this great article from MarketWatch to learn more about the changes.

We hope these 5 ways to help empower your employees who are homeschooling has given you some changes to implement. This is undoubtedly a very difficult time for most businesses. However, we urge you to prioritize compassion (and yes flexibility) for their long term benefits not only to your employer brand but also for your employees. 

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