ne of the very few positive aspects of the recent lockdown situation was the increased focus on wellbeing that emerged from all sides. Government and businesses alike were taking the wellbeing of citizens and employees extremely seriously.
While we are pleased to be seeing this new focus on taking care of everyone during these difficult times, we have been slightly frustrated to see that in some cases childcare was left out of discussions.
We firmly believe that for a large amount of people childcare still is a major concern. This was especially prevalent with schools closed and parents trying to manage education and extra meals at home etc.
Many parents were suddenly left having to deal with new childcare responsibilities due to the closure of schools. While we’re not in any way doubting the parenting skills on offer across the country, home-schooling for the first time and attempting to replicate a classroom model at home was indeed a whole new kettle of fish! Not all parents would have had the resources or even the time to be able to properly home-school their children.
Similarly, many parents had to quickly adapt to their children no longer receiving their meals at school. For some, meals that now had to be paid for and cooked made a massive financial difference in these already financially difficult times. Many parents found themselves in a precarious situation with regards to work and money as it was, meaning the new obligations were not happily welcomed.
Companies Supporting their Staff
While many businesses and business owners have been good in accommodating the needs of working parents in a holistic sense, that is to say with flexible hours and deadlines, we have seen childcare costs being left out of the equation in many cases. We are not suggesting that employers are not making an effort to support all their employees emotionally and financially, we just believe that there is much more to be done when it comes to employees who have needed to work with new obligations.
We really do have to question why childcare and its related costs seemed to be left to the side while many of the other aspects of working during the coronavirus pandemic were highlighted. While there has been so much support for all employees, financial and otherwise, there has been very little announced to help with childcare.
This has not been particularly helped by the lack of support for working parents from the government. We really do hope that with time and some pressure the government will be able to recognise the ongoing difficulties faced by working parents and provides them with some support, much in the way that was done to support the self-employed and freelancers during recent months.
Working Parents Community
Working parents, as usual, have been finding ways to positively deal with the situation. All sorts of people had been putting together all sorts of resources and tools to help, both to keep the kids occupied and to keep the parents sane. Some of our favourite resources were the BBC Bitesize videos, with celebrities like Danny Dyer putting some novel takes on history. We also recommended some of the guides available online with expert advice for keeping mentally strong that have been put together for working parents by working parents. No-one quite knows how to survive as a working parent better than a working parent!
What has made us the happiest has been seeing working parents sharing their experiences. This is a crisis that we have been able to get through together and seeing parents able to learn through the advice and support of others. We’re so thankful for the more experienced parents that have been sharing their expertise for those who might be a bit newer to all this.
Start the Conversation
As a community, it’s important to keep up the momentum of this support even as lockdown restrictions start to ease up, as working parents are still home with their children during the summer holidays. But as schools will begin to reopen, and the ‘new normal’ starts to take shape, that becomes the time to question what employers will be doing to fully support their staff. Emotional, logistical, productive support is all welcome, yes –but financially it’s important that businesses re-evaluate their overall benefits offering.
Offering strong support to employees provides an organisation with a ton of benefits. Not only does it evoke a sense of trust and respect, but it improves an employee’s wellbeing and overall job satisfaction usually impacting job retention rates. In addition, by specifically paying close attention to childcare support, an employer is able to attract a larger pool of talent to include skilled working parents. This puts the company in a strong position in terms of their reputation as a great employer to work for.
If childcare is not being discussed, it’s a conversation that needs to begin and we hope more employers will take this opportunity to change and adapt themselves.
We hope you’re all staying safe and taking care of each other.