As this pandemic wears on, I’d like to speak directly today to the employers and managers of working parent employees. I’m not normally one to plead, but I’m willing to beg 9 things of you today. I’m making these pleas on behalf of mothers and fathers everywhere.
Speaking with so many of them this week, I can assure you that they are: (1) pretty darn close to losing their minds at the moment, and (2) like many of us, terrified for their jobs.
9 Specific Requests of Employers and Managers
Plea #1: Treat us as you’d treat a close friend or loved one going through this. With empathy.
We know that not everyone has kids and is situated like we are. We will empathize with your situation in managing a completely remote workforce during a crisis. Please empathize with our predicament that we’ve never before had to be full-time caregivers and full-time employees simultaneously. (That’s why we hired childcare.)
Plea #2: Don’t assume that everyone gained time in their workday as a result of the shift to remote work.
Yes, it’s true that, we are no longer commuting. But many of us are spending many, many hours per day caring for screaming toddlers. Homeschooling our children. And mediating sibling disputes. In addition to meeting our work obligations.
Plea #3: Do not be offended if you see or hear a child while you’re on a call with a parent employee.
It happens. A baby or toddler needs to nurse at the same time a parent needs to take a work call. With work and life so inextricably interwoven these days, and so many people living in small spaces, overlap will happen. Breathe. Smile. Pause. And be patient with us.
Plea #4: Please, we beg of you, employers and managers, have someone on your leadership team schedule a call with your parent employees.
Please don’t avoid scheduling a call with your parent employees, simply because you don’t have all the answers. We know this entire situation is brand new. But when you avoid us, your silence sends a message that is hard to ignore.
Plea #5: Yes, we want to know that you are there for us. But please don’t schedule check-ins every day just to talk about life and the current crisis.
We are running on extremely tight time margins at the moment, and scheduling a call once a week to check in on life in general is probably enough. Just say that you care. And then believe us when we say we care about you, too.
Plea #6: Don’t make assumptions about what work we can and can’t get done.
Working parents are efficiency ninjas. And now we are super-powered-turbo-charged efficiency ninjas. Don’t make assumptions one way or the other about what we can and can’t do right now. Just talk to us and ask.
Plea #7: As employers and managers, offer us as much flexibility as you can muster.
Please be understanding, if we’re struggling to commit to specific times for calls, or if our schedules falter. If we’re still succeeding in getting mission-critical items done, please don’t micromanage our time.
Plea #8: Assume positive intent, and don’t take things personally.
Recognize that we are all under stress. And that if our mood or tone are different than normal, it’s only because we are literally just trying to hold it all together right now. We will try to remember to assume positive intent from you, too.
Plea #9: In making what I know are difficult layoff decisions, consider factors other than COVID-era productivity.
Please do not put a target on an employee’s back, simply because she or he has extraordinary caregiving responsibilities in this time. This crisis will end. Consider who you’ll want on your teams to re-build when it does.
Looking for other helpful resources during this crisis? Here are a few that may help:
- My Sample COVID-Related Out-Of-Office Message
- Working from Home with Kids: 5 Action Steps for Leaders, Managers, and Employees
- Template Action Plan for Working from Home When You’re Caring for Others
- COVID-19 and Your Employees with Caregiving Responsibility: Communication Plan for Employers, Managers, & Employees
Several other relevant Mindful Return blog posts that may prove helpful include: