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Do you find that some employees are distracted lately? Are they requesting to come in late or leave early? Back-to-School time can affect many aspects of a parent’s life, including how they perform at work. This can be a hectic time for employees and employers. Our goal is to guide you on what to expect and offer a few tips to help navigate a chaotic few weeks.

Back-to-School Fatigue for Parents:

Things are being shaken up left and right. The family is adjusting to getting up earlier, there may be less sleep from anxiety or excitement, and new routines are being set in place. Parents are thinking about drop-off, pick-up, afterschool care, homework, and making sure that every moment of their child’s day is taken care of for the coming weeks.

What to expect?

It’s common for employees to become a bit forgetful, you may notice they take more notes or even set reminders for daily tasks. Your team may also seem tired and less talkative.

HR Advice:

This is only temporary. The impact of Back-to-School fatigue will only last about two weeks. Anticipate behavior changes from even your most reliable employees and try to be as flexible as possible, if the business allows for it. Some parents may need to visit the school 3-4 times depending on the school and the number of children. Also, ask your employees what they need? Most employees are just trying to make it ALL happen. By letting them know that you know and understand their hectic life, they will feel supported and valued.

Share EAP or How to Create a Back-Up Plan for Unexpected issues:

From transportation issues to illnesses to parent-teacher conferences, there are endless unexpected problems that can pop-up. Help your employees and the company by starting the “Back-Up Plan” conversation.

HR Advice:

It can be as simple as an all employee email that shares company related benefits and resources. Most importantly, ask employees to get ready for Back-to-School with the 2 P’s, Plan and Prepare.

Plan= Tell employees to know to obtain pre-scheduled dates like parent-teacher conferences or even in-service days. Ask employees to compare these dates with their allotted time-off. Keep the lines of communication open. As an employer, you cannot approve all dates but should remain fair and consistent with your team.

Prepare = We all know that kids get sick, employees should try to prepare for the unscheduled time. Identify daycares, after-hour care, after school programs, and a trusted support system for when parents are not able to leave work. If employees already have a back-up plan, then it removes the stress in the moment. If the employee doesn’t know where to turn, recommend that they ask a local parent group how others handle these unexpected situations.

To sum it up, this time of year can really shake things up for the millions of employees out there who are parents. Does this make them bad employees? No, but it is up to the employee and employer to work together and communicate effectively. It’s important to acknowledge that this is temporary and doesn’t necessarily indicate negative behavior or performance down the road.

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