Why your business’ approach to children going ‘Back to School’ could be good for your business

The Summer holidays are over, the children have started back to school and the peak leave period is over…surely then, it’s now safe to say business, as usual, can be resumed. Or is it?

If you employ parents then actually, probably not quite yet.

You might have people in your business who have a child starting school for the first time, or whose child is transitioning to a new school, perhaps moving into secondary education, or changing schools for any manner of other reasons. Even the start of the new school year without any other significant changes can be a testing time for parents. Also, timetables change and so may the requirements for wrap around childcare as a result.

For the parent of a child starting school for the first time, the challenges can be both hugely emotional and a logistical nightmare! Whilst the workplace has changed considerably over the years, school schedules, largely, have not. This means that, depending on the school, it will be a few weeks before the child is actually at school full time. In the meantime, parents are faced with the conundrum of how to manage a phased entry period whilst also meeting their work obligations. This will include calling in favours for childcare wherever possible as well as needing increased flexibility from you.

After the challenges of juggling work and family commitments through July and August, many working parents feel under pressure to ‘up their game’ now that the Summer holidays are over. Much of the pressure may well come from themselves, but it might also come, intentionally or otherwise, from colleagues or employers.

What can you do to help?

As an employer, there are things you can do to help valued employees through a challenging few weeks.

You are the leader of your team or business, which means that you can directly influence the culture, and can foster one which is positive and supportive towards the parents in your team.

By proactively engaging with your team ahead of the new school year, you can plan ahead to ensure resources are appropriately allocated meaning any additional time off doesn’t result in unmanageable workloads – for them or for their colleagues.

Flexible working is another area to ensure you have discussed with your employee. There is a legal obligation for you to consider requests for flexible working. For more information, check out my previous blog post here.

You may also wish to consider making sure that your staff are fully aware of the options available with regards to childcare. This could include affiliations with local child care facilities or ensuring that full information about childcare schemes is readily available for staff.

Other avenues you could consider are enabling working from home on a temporary basis, or having the option to take extended leave with salary deductions being made over the financial year for example.

How will your business benefit?

The benefit of supporting an experienced member of staff extends far beyond simply meeting your legal obligations as an employer.

You are also protecting your business financially. The loss of each employee costs businesses an average of £5000 in terms of lost experience plus the recruitment and training implications of replacement staff. Not to mention the impact that staff turnover has on the rest of the team.

Working parents can be amongst the most loyal people you have on your team. Generally, they will recognise that they have been well looked after and supported when they needed it and will repay that in terms of commitment and productivity in the future.

And last but by no means least, a reputation for being a supportive, progressive employer means that you can be sure you will attract the very best new staff in the future as your business grows.

If you’d like more ideas or feel you would benefit from some advice on how to support your team whilst protecting the interests of your business, give me a call and I would be happy to help.

Contact the office of Kate Underwood HR on 02382 025160 or [email protected]

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