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The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the struggles of working parents as schools closed and childcare opportunities dwindled. Many working parents were forced to juggle the responsibilities of watching their children while also fulfilling their job duties at the same time. For many parents, finding a balance was nearly impossible. 

 Even as schools have reopened and childcare is in full swing, the pandemic still has lingering effects on working families. For one, children are not yet vaccinated against the virus, which has resulted in unforeseen quarantine days and a scramble to line up child care. While many parents in the workforce embraced a physical return to the workplace, the convenience of working remotely is hard to replace. As Americans continue to reexamine their relationship with time, work, and family, employers are forced to do the same.

Creating Workplace Policies 

While the pandemic will end eventually, its effects will inevitably impact the workplace for the foreseeable future. Employers were forced to reevaluate their policies and procedures during the height of the pandemic, however, these same structures will need to be consistently reexamined as the ripple effects of the pandemic come to the surface. While the policies may change, employers should keep these factors in mind as they work to support their employees:

Focus on flexibility

As working parents continue to wade through the nuances of parenting and working during and after a pandemic, maintaining flexibility is key. For parents and non-parents alike, many individuals are having a difficult time reentering society after nearly a year of social isolation. Keeping this in mind, employers should prioritize flexibility in their policies. This may look like instituting a flexible work schedule, remote work policies, or starting unlimited PTO programs. 

Reframing the future 

It’s important for employers to consistently reevaluate their policies to fit the needs of their employees. The best organizations are ones that learn from experience. Instituting a feedback mechanism to learn from their employees can help promote a healthy workplace environment and nurture a happy and healthy staff. HR teams have created informal surveys and conducted town hall meetings to solicit employee feedback, which have helped employers learn how to effectively support employees. 

Ensure a supportive workplace 

Creating policies and procedures that work to support staff will work for most people, however, employers should be willing to accommodate employees on an as-needed basis. What works for most people may not work for others. HR teams must be willing to answer to working parents’ needs case by case. While over-accommodation isn’t necessary, responding with empathy and flexibility can go a long way in supporting one’s productivity and efficiency. 

Risk management teams across the country are beginning to see the real-life effects of the pandemic on employees throughout every industry. To support employees, especially working parents, risk management teams have encouraged employers to respond with empathy while creating concrete policies that promote a healthy work/life balance and ultimately create more productive and effective employees. 

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