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Your Back To School Policy Could Be Good For Your Business

The Summer holidays are over, the leaves are turning beautiful golden brown colours,  children have started back to school and the peak leave period is over. Surely then, it’s now safe to say that business, as usual, can be resumed. Or is it?

If you employ parents, then not quite yet!

Working parents in your team might have a child starting school for the first time, or whose child is transitioning to a new school. Or perhaps their child is moving into secondary education or changing schools for any manner of other reasons. Even the regular, September start of a new school year without any other significant changes can be a testing time for parents as timetables may change, meaning requirements for wrap around childcare as a result. Do you see how testing sending kids back to school can be?

For the parent of a child starting school for the first time, the challenges can be both hugely emotional and a logistical nightmare! While the workplace has changed considerably over the years, school schedules, primarily, have not. This means that, depending on the school, it may 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 may include calling in favours for childcare wherever possible as well as needing increased flexibility from you, their employer.

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

What Can You Do To Help With Back To School?

As an employer, there are a few easy things you can do to help valued employees through the challenging few weeks as their kids go back to school.

Remember you are the leader of your team or business, and this means you can directly influence the culture and can foster an environment which is positive and supportive towards the parents in your team when their children are headed back to school.

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 working parents and/or their colleagues.

Flexible working is another area you should ensure you have discussed with your employee. Nowadays, 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. Options they may not be fully aware of include affiliations with local childcare facilities. Just by ensuring that full information about childcare schemes is readily available for staff can be a big help to working parents.

Other avenues you could consider are enabling working from home temporarily 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 merely meeting your legal obligations as an employer.

You are also protecting your business financially. The loss of each employee costs companies an average of £5,000 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. If you are seen to be looking after them, they will recognise they have been well looked after and supported in times of need and will repay that in terms of commitment and productivity in the future.

Last but by no means least, enabling working parents in your team send their kids back to school will earn you a reputation as a supportive, progressive employer. In turn, this reputation will help you 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 while protecting the interests of your business, give me a call, and I would be happy to help.

Contact Kate Underwood HR by phoning us on 02382 025160 or emailing me at [email protected]

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