Work & Family

4 Strategies to Support Working Parents During COVID-19 Crisis

Working Mother recently ran a survey that indicated that 81% of working mothers are unable to effectively engage at work due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. This will in turn cost the US economy an estimated $341 billion, yet again highlighting that it is critical for companies to support working parents.

The FFCRA and CARES Act provides employees with 12 weeks of paid FMLA, and large companies like Microsoft and Google are providing paid family leave to their working parent populations as well.

These moves recognize the impossible pressure we are putting on parents to juggle caregiving, homeschooling, and full-time careers all at the same time. And right now, this pressure is falling predominantly on mothers. (To all the men stepping up right now and taking on your share of the child care and house work, go share that with a male friend or colleague, and challenge them to do the same!

The good news is that our country is starting the discussion of how and when to re-open! Companies, employees and families all have the opportunity to focus on moving forward to create a new normal instead of simply reverting back to the way it was.

Here at WRK/360, we are focused on exactly that! How do we ensure that we are supporting companies and parents alike to move forward — in creating policies, programs, and cultures that support all working parents?

That is why we are so excited to share our news that Silvana Toledo, Co-Founder of Collab & Play, a co-working center with onsite childcare, has joined us in our mission to create inclusive work cultures for working parents. Her strengths designing and running onsite childcare programs is a fantastic complement to our existing consulting and training programs to support working parents and their managers through return to work and building and career & family strategies.

Especially as we look out through the summer months and into the fall, childcare and school environments are likely to look very different (for example, some ideas getting pitched in California include staggered schedules, half school days, reduced large gatherings, etc) and therefore we know working parents are going to be stringing together care solutions.

Companies that can provide innovative solutions will be well poised to support and retain their working parents population! Silvana’s expertise and voice will be extremely important in the coming months and beyond, especially as working parents are expected to be regularly challenged with childcare gaps.

Here we would like to share with you 4 strategies managers can focus on now to support working parents during this COVID-19 crisis:

  • If you haven’t yet had that conversation, start by connecting with the moms and dads on your team individually. This will create an opportunity for brainstorming on solutions that could work for their particular situation.
  • Consider re-evaluating/re-assigning the workload for working parents. This means you put a pause on the projects you can, prolong the due date, cancel the assignment altogether, or help delegate the work to other team members who are able to take on some extra work.
  • Don’t create expectations that everyone has to be “on” all the time. Instead, talk to them and co-create expectations given each individual’s circumstances. You can create a plan together where everyone feels comfortable. This is important for non-caregivers on your team as well! Everyone needs to feel like they have permission to step away from their computer!
  • Encourage your team to block time offline together! One leader shared that she makes sure all their team members are signed off from their internal messaging app by 5 pm, while another company is taking the bold approach of having the entire company step away from their desks for an hour at lunchtime each day.

We highly recommend all managers to keep channels of communications very open, as we continue to work in these unprecedented times and employee’s needs or circumstances can drastically vary.