With kids making special cameos on Zoom calls, it’s common knowledge that working parents are doing the impossible right now. Balancing work with childcare and home-schooling? Oof.
Among the Best Workplaces™ making pandemic pivots, many are helping moms and dads manage triple duty. From the need for drastic flexibility to talking to kids about racism — here are some creative and caring ways to support parents battling the legacies of COVID-19.
Tricky conversations at Synchrony
Synchrony is taking more than 3,600 “campers” to virtual summer camp — and making the experience relevant for today. Kids are being entertained but they’re also learning.
As part of the camp curriculum, Synchrony hired a child psychologist to guide parents through tough conversations about complex topics such as COVID-19 and racism in America:
- Why wearing a mask is important
- Why social distancing is important
- How to communicate the risks in a way that doesn’t create fear
- What “racism” means
- Why some children have different experiences because of the color of their skin
- How we can help our children make good choices that respect everyone
Virtual learning for kids at Alston & Bird
During the pandemic, Alston & Bird LLP made the difficult decision to close their on-site daycare center for the health and safety of the children and teachers. During the closure, teachers have continued to provide support to parents via virtual learning, activities and examples of daily curriculum schedules to help maintain structure at home.
Usually a cost for parents, Alston & Bird covered tuition during the closure. Once tuition and payments to teachers ended, the parents at the daycare raised over $17,000 to help support the teachers. The funds were divided equally between every staff member—a heartwarming response to a very difficult situation.
Company-wide understanding for parents at Asana
Certain groups, like parents and underrepresented minorities, can be disproportionately affected by the additional barriers created by a major change in their working environment, plus a global crisis.
Given this, Asana has used this opportunity to “Create spaces for employees to show up in the way that works for them, and build community together to remain connected and supported no matter where they are,” explained an employee at Asana.
Asana paid more attention to the needs of parents and provided support that allowed them to show up how they can, without judgment, and to prioritize taking care of their family.
Starting with manager training on how to lead inclusively and how to best communicate with parents on their teams, Asana has developed an understanding across the company of parents’ needs.
Leaders now encourage parents to block off times on their calendar and mark when they are away and when they are online so that boundaries are clear and teams can work with them in the best way possible.
Modeling from the top at SECURA
Executives at SECURA Insurance understand the unique burdens for parents during COVID-19 — and they speak it.
“Please know, your family comes first!” Dave Gross, the company’s CEO, shared in one of his first daily emails to associates after the pandemic hit.
“Please think of your family and loved ones first and then get to anything SECURA related. If you’ve got youngsters now during your work day, and you are now their school teacher or daycare, please take care of their needs first and foremost.”
Simply acknowledging that it’s not easy to balance lesson plans with conference calls goes a long way to helping employees feel psychologically safe and supported. SECURA employees have been assured that even if they can’t put in a full work week, they will still be paid for one.
Childcare at Baptist Health South Florida
To help ease the burden of childcare after schools and daycare centers closing, Baptist Health South Florida started an emergency childcare program.
The education team from Baptist Health’s five early learning centers secured additional resources and locations to accommodate more children up to age 12, so that employees at the company’s facilities could have their young children safely cared for. The service cost $10 a day.
Take your kids to work day at Radio Flyer
Kids mini-vehicle producer, Radio Flyer, piloted their annual Take Your Kids to Work Day in a virtual format and had their highest participation yet.
Kids courageously presented to the entire company at the virtual weekly meeting, pitched the team exciting new product ideas and wrote limericks aligned with Radio Flyer’s #PledgeToPlay initiative.
After taking part with her two children — both veterans of Take Your Kids to Work Day — employee Jean Rosenzweig expressed gratitude for the virtual event:
“Recently, it seems every day has been Take Our Kids to Work Day since we are all working and e-learning from home … but this day was different. Having my kids join my daily video calls and learn about what I do at work strengthened my connection to my job and to my family.”
Extended parental leave benefits at Salesforce
The multi-national company Salesforce extended their parental leave benefits to help employees care for their families this year.
From June 1 to December 31, 2020, employees faced with caregiving hardships are now eligible to take up to 6 weeks of paid time off to provide care for a child or an elder.
“We have temporarily activated a Global Back Up Child Care program, through which employees can get reimbursed up to $100/day for 5 days each month when backup care for dependents under the age of 18 is required,” explained an employee at Salesforce.
Stipends for keeping kids cool at Button
Button’s people, workplace, and IT teams quickly implemented new policies, procedures and programs to support their employees and provide a smooth transition. This included assembling a robust resource guide for hardworking parents who are juggling home life and work life.
Parents also got a monthly stipend to help with extra expenses like educational materials, Disney+ subscriptions, or simply ordering in dinner to regain some valuable family time.
No pressure at Nerd Wallet
Long before the COVID-19 outbreak, NerdWallet offered flexible work schedules, 100% paid parental leave for new parents and an internal support group called “NerdParents.” At the start of the outbreak, the team at NerdWallet knew that parents would be stressed without childcare and we didn’t want them to feel guilty for needing more flexibility.
So, within a few days of the work from home order, managers had direct conversations with their colleagues, encouraging them to take whatever time they needed to support their families — even if it meant working only a three-hour day.
And all “Nerds,” as Nerd employees call themselves, have been completely supportive. They’ve rallied around their coworkers: they cover for each other, accept that children may interrupt video calls and show empathy for the pressure coworkers are facing.
On certain Wednesdays, Nerds aren’t obligated to answer emails or do any work at all. Nerds can use this time however they want — to take a walk, focus on a project, or watch their kids.
This program was particularly impactful for parents who felt stressed about staying available because it gave them explicit permission to step away from their email.
How are you helping working moms and dads?
From making time to homeschool children to remembering to “log-off,” finding a balance between work and personal time is a constant challenge. You can take care of your employees beyond their work, and into their homes, to create an employee experience that helps individuals and businesses alike.