Staff Management: Managing Back to School Pressures
By: Roberta Matuson
Fall is a crazy time for working parents as they try to maintain some semblance of worklife balance while settling their kids into school.
Here are some staff management tips to use during the back to school season that will minimize workplace interruptions.
Speak to your employees before finalizing schedules. Rather than finding out that an employee cannot mind the store on a Tuesday night, wouldn’t it be better to ask before finalizing the schedule?
You can avoid scheduling nightmares by meeting with each of your people ahead of time so that you have an opportunity to avoid scheduling conflicts. This approach will significantly reduce last minute requests for time off to coach their child’s soccer team or to attend parent’s weekend at their kid’s college.
Remember that this is the time of year when workplace flexibility really matters.
Relax your “no personal phone calls during working hours rule.” Many working parents are unable to leave the office to pick up their kids from school. Some have to rely on public transportation while others have children walking home on their own. For some, this may be the first time their child has headed home without parental supervision.
Relaxing the rules a bit to allow a parent to gain some peace of mind is certainly worth doing, especially while families establish their fall routines. And in this day and age, that may mean allowing the employee to make a phone call or send an email or text message.
Limit overtime. The beginning of the school year means lots of parent meetings at school and after school activities. Many of these meetings take place in the late afternoon or early evening.
Limiting the amount of required for overtime during the back to school transition period can ease the conflict a parent feels when work and family life collide.
Schedule staff meetings a bit later. Staff meetings that begin at 8:00 AM are challenging enough when the only person you have to get ready that day is yourself. Throw two kids into the mix and perhaps an aging parent who lives with you and all bets are off.
Ask your people what time of the day is best for them to attend a meeting. Or consider new technologies such as videoconferencing, which can be surprisingly affordable. Then do your best to accommodate the majority.
Educational reimbursement. Back to school time isn’t just reserved for the under-21 set. Many parents are spending their days in the office and evenings pursuing college classes.
As a small business owner you may not have the funds to pay for someone’s degree, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a contribution. Perhaps you can reimburse your employee for books or contribute a set amount to every class they successfully complete. This is how you create goodwill and a better-educated and more engaged workforce.
Telecommuting. Life doesn't always go as planned when you are parent. The school you thought would be perfect for your child turns into a nightmare, requiring you to seek out alternatives. The college student you hired for after school care dumps you to spend more time with her boyfriend.
If a parent comes to you and asks about telecommuting until they can sort their care out, give their request consideration. Doing so will provide the employee with ample time to work through their personal challenges and they will return to the office even more committed than when they left.
These small allowances will pay off big for your small business – by increasing employee retention and loyalty in the long run.
©2012, Matuson Consulting. All Rights Reserved.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Matuson Consulting and author of the forthcoming, The Magnetic Workplace (Nicholas Brealey, 2013) and the acclaimed book Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-5 Leadership pick. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, Talent Maximizer.