Cartoon Coffee Break: Working Parents Have Been Hit Harder By The Pandemic
October 21, 2020
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon.
Many company leaders and their employees have been working from home for over seven months now. Several are finding it difficult to stay focused or remain as productive as they were in the pre-pandemic office. Employees are increasingly feeling burnt out—and this is especially true for working parents.
This demographic has been juggling work with teaching and caring for their children—and will most likely have to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. According to a recent survey from Catalyst and CNBC on the impact of COVID-19 on educational plans and the working parents of school-aged children, about 66% of parents said their children will be in 100% remote or virtual learning this fall.
The Career Concerns of Working Parents
Many parents are worried about the effects these conditions could have on their careers: 41% of parents reported having less job security due to the pandemic, and 42% are afraid to take advantage of the benefits their workplace offers working parents, for fear of losing their employment if they did so. As a result, parents are giving into their children’s requests for more screen time while they take work meetings and tend to job-related tasks.
Some parents might see this strategy as potentially harmful to their children’s development, but research has proven otherwise. In fact, there’s little evidence that screen time can harm kids. As long as parents are making sure that technology isn’t replacing necessary activities—like exercise and sleep—increased screen time should have little-to-no negative impact.
How Employers Can Better Support Working Parents
While this is good news, working parents are still having a difficult year, and there are steps that employers should take to alleviate some of their challenges. For example, companies need to increase transparency around their available benefits for working parents and actively encourage them to use them as needed.
And to assuage working parents’ concerns around job security, employers should take opportunities to make it clear that there will be no consequences if employees do choose to use these benefits. Empathetic communication can help get rid of these worries as well. Ask HR teams and managers to check-in with working parents frequently, making sure that they feel supported and aren’t overwhelmed.