Many kids have already started back to school. Others will be heading back in the coming weeks. In the past, this was a time of joy for parents, almost a kind of a liberation that their kids were heading back to school Monday-Friday. That’s not the case now.

For some, there’s still the financial stress of it all, especially for those employees with college and private school kids. For others, it’s there’s still a  change in routine and schedule, and the added pressure of attending events and being involved in activities. Many adults will struggle with the fear of missing those events.

Then there’s the pandemic. Parents everywhere fall into one of two camps. Their kids are either physically going back to school where the risk of exposure is increased, or they’re staying at home where the parents now have to play an active part of the child’s day to day education.

Those stressors are going to impact your employees’ productivity and work-life balance.

As a manager, you can’t remove those stressors, but you can take steps to ensure that the workplace isn’t making it worse. Follow these tips to help your employees transition from summer to fall as easily as possible:

  • Be empathetic. If you have children yourself, this may come more easily to you. But if you’ve never really considered the cost or added stress of a new school year to parents (especially this one), take a moment to put yourself in your employees’ shoes.
  • Be flexible. The degree of flexibility that you can offer will vary from field to field and workplace to workplace, but be flexible where you can. If your organization is working in person, that might mean allowing employees to leave work early to pick up their kids and then make up those hours remotely in the evening. It might mean giving them shifts that coincide better with their children’s schedules. It might mean giving them flex time or even allowing them to leave early if they’re on top of their assignments. Of course, stay within the bounds of your organization’s policies. By now you’ve hopefully gotten more flexible anyway with allowing your team to work from home.
  • Don’t be a distraction. This should be common sense, but as we all know, common sense isn’t always common practice. Don’t give your employees more reasons to be less productive. That means that you shouldn’t be sidetracking them from their tasks by micromanaging their assignments, forcing them to attend meetings that don’t relate to their work, surprising them with off-topic requests or interrupting their work “just to chat.” I’m not suggesting you be unfriendly, but recognize when employees are in the zone and save the chitchat for another time.

What’s your plan to combat back-to-school stress in your organization?

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