We know that the current situation around the coronavirus is worrying for everyone. There is a lot of uncertainty around how long this will last so it's important for you, as managers, to understand how best to support employee wellbeing during this difficult time. It is likely that at least some of your workforce will be juggling their regular roles and responsibilities at work on top of homeschooling their children.
Many of them won't have homeschooled their children before and may feel under a lot of pressure to make sure their child still gets a good education alongside balancing their work commitments.
Some parents have additional worries about homeschooling, due to their children being taught in a language which they do not speak or read. The parents in your team may be feeling stressed or burnt out and a little bit of reassurance from you could go a long way.
Tell your staff that you recognise that homeschooling is very difficult on top of working and you are prepared to be flexible and explore further adjustments. Ask them to get in touch with you if they want to discuss any adjustments to their working day. It is important to keep in contact with each other, making sure you can be supportive and understanding wherever possible.
There are times when children will interrupt calls or meetings. Be understanding of the impact of this. Your employees might already have worries about this happening, so be mindful. Ask if there is another suitable time you can call back, arrange a catch-up over email or record the meeting so staff don't miss anything important.
Parents will always try to accommodate work requests. Allowing staff to send emails outside of core hours could release the pressure for them to always be available during the day. However, ensure work is stopped at a reasonable hour so people can get adequate rest and keep weekends free.
Provide a meeting agenda in advance and allow parents to choose the times they're able to join. Providing staff with flexibility and as much information as possible on the upcoming meeting will give them the opportunity to plan ahead. This also gives staff who are caring for children, the freedom to plan around their child's homeschooling schedule.
Be aware that your staff will be finding this new way of working difficult. So, make sure to ask them about their children and how they're getting on when you're on any calls. Checking in and staying in touch with staff and understanding how your staff are feeling during this time is very important.
If your staff member is part of a two-parent family, allowing them to work different hours and lighter days can help them to organise work around homeschooling. You can suggest that staff with partners can use a shift plan to help both parents get a fair workload. With those in single-parent families, try to be as flexible as possible. Emphasise that staff need to look after their own wellbeing too and that may mean prioritising their children's needs and homeschooling before their own workload.
This is a very difficult situation for everyone but remember to be patient with your employees during this time and try to accommodate any situations they might be experiencing at home. We'd love to hear what's working for you and your team to support your mental health. Email [email protected] to share your experiences.