- The pandemic is hitting working parents particularly hard, as balancing work and parenthood at home is a recipe for burnout and anxiety.
- Anjulika Saini, the global co-chair of LinkedIn’s Employee Resource Group, Parents at LinkedIn and a mother, believes companies need to step up and support their parent employees during this time.
- According to a new survey from LinkedIn, 34% of parents caring for children at home are primarily concerned that working from home will impact their productivity.
- Whether it’s creating Slack channels for parents to connect or creating regular check-ins through surveys, feedback, and open forums, leadership needs to be flexible and transparent.
- Recognize that every working parent has a number of unique challenges, so provide a range of resources that show your continuous support.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
It’s no secret that a career and parenthood are both full-time jobs.
With only question marks around when returning to physical office spaces for some industries will occur, it’s increasingly important that companies recognize working parents are stretched to their limits.
According to a new survey from LinkedIn, the biggest concern for one-third (34%) of parents caring for children at home is that working from home will prevent them from doing their jobs efficiently as they’re trying to balance childcare, chores, or other distractions.
In other words, eight hours of undivided attention on work priorities is simply no longer a possibility and hasn’t been for several months now.
Given the findings above, it’s likely no surprise that we also found working parents are feeling high levels of burnout due to the extra responsibilities of teaching school-aged children at home and lack of boundaries between work and life while working remotely.
As a mother and one of the leaders of LinkedIn’s Parents at LinkedIn (PAL) Employee Resource Group (ERG), I’ve seen firsthand the varying needs of parents and the benefits and impact of having a supportive workplace environment.
Based on our experiences within the PAL ERG over the last several months, here are a few recommendations of ways companies can support their parent employees during these difficult times:
1. Establish an online community for parents to connect with one another
Creating an online community for parents to connect can be incredibly impactful.
An online community can help create a sense of belonging and help parents feel that they aren’t alone. Forums can include a mix of lighthearted competitions, challenges, fun reading, and craft recommendations as well as meaningful and timely discussions on important topics.
Traditionally, the PAL ERG has focused on in-office events, aiming to support, educate and inspire, and help our parent and ally community be their best at work. When the reality of COVID-19 sunk in, we created a global forum in the form of a closed LinkedIn group.
We were surprised how fast the forum grew. Within a matter of a few days, we had 1,500+ global members consisting of colleagues from LinkedIn who are either parents, caregivers or aunts and uncles, sharing their everyday life, parenting hacks, helpful resources, etc.
Another great example is from a company called ThirdLove — it created Slack channels to support their working parents. One was called #homeschooling, which shared resources and interesting things parents could share with their children to help keep them entertained. They also began providing team members with a “wellness day” each month, giving everyone the day off to take care of themselves.
2. Be a resource, not an expert
Realizing there are a number of challenges faced by working parents during this time, it’s important to look well beyond a “one-size-fits all” solution or set of recommendations, and provide a range of resources for parents.
As situations continue to evolve, parents are looking for companies to share resources for continued support as we struggle with the challenges of balancing work and family life.
For example, as the country continues to experience racial injustice struggles, many LinkedIn parents began sharing books or other resources they were using to have diversity and inclusion conversations with their children.
Personally, I learned about the NPR Life Kit on Parenting from a fellow parent and another PAL ERG leader shared two books he reads to his girls that teaches the concept of inclusion.
3. Encourage leadership support and flexibility
Our recent LinkedIn survey found that almost half (48%) of professionals think continuing to work from home will impact their career: More than one-quarter think it will slow their career growth because they won’t be as visible to their boss or colleagues, and that it’ll make it harder for them to learn from their superiors or colleagues.
Given this, organizational support and flexibility is key for long term success as parents try to find ways to maintain productivity while continuing to parent (and sometimes homeschool) during the work day.
With parents needing more flexibility, having managers that recognize these challenges and support employees is more important than ever before. To help achieve flexibility everyone is comfortable with, encourage transparency between colleagues on work schedules and availability.
Over the last few months, we’ve seen a number of companies update policies to help support and provide some flexibility for working parents during this time. For example, Pinterest rolled out a four-week paid leave offering so parents could have some flexibility if and when they needed the time offline for homeschooling or other caregiver needs. Target enhanced several of the benefits they offer to their hourly and salaried workers by providing 20 days total of in-center childcare or in-home child- and eldercare.
4. Create regular check ins
Last but not least, it’s important to regularly check in with the working parent populations at your companies.
While everyone may have figured out their “new” routines and had some flexibility with their children over the summer, it’s important to remember that school has started back up and parents are struggling even harder to manage work and home schooling.
It’s important to create a feedback loop both at the company level as well as on individual teams to ensure there are plenty of opportunities to share and hear feedback on new challenges emerging for employees.
At LinkedIn, we conduct quarterly surveys, checking in on things such as new technology needs that have emerged, preferences for working situations in the future, etc. Those results are then shared back to the entire company during our bi-weekly all-company meetings for increased transparency.
And at the individual team level, our “open to feedback” culture is something that we’ve created over time so that employees always have an outlet to share spot feedback in between more formal survey times. Check-ins are incredibly important to healthy company cultures (remote or not) and the feedback process is something we at LinkedIn are always working to improve upon and perfect.
During these challenging times managing health, family, and work can be incredibly stressful and isolating. As people look for support, companies can serve as an invaluable resource for working parents to find moments of connection and community.
Anjulika Saini is a regional sales manager within LinkedIn Sales Solutions and one of the global co-chairs of LinkedIn’s Employee Resource Group, Parents at LinkedIn.
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