13 September 2019
It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the mornings fresher, the leaves are starting to fall and – for many of us – the kids are back in school. I’ve always loved September: crisp new exercise books, sharp new pencils and the promise of a fresh start, offset by the bitter sweetness that comes with the end of summer. Certainly as I wave my boys off to school this week I’m excited by the challenges that lie ahead for them but a little less enthusiastic about the practical challenges that come with having young children in school. I dare say that many parents across the country feel the same trepidation. Unlike pre-school nursery and summer holiday clubs, the school day ends around 3pm, more the middle of the day for most City parents than the end of it. I saw it reported recently that due to a funding crisis some schools are being forced to cut their hours by shortening break times or closing at lunchtime on a Friday.
With an already short school day becoming even shorter, many parents will be grappling with the challenge of post-school childcare. Not all schools offer wrap around care and the added expense of after school clubs, child-minders or nannies can be crippling for lower earners or single income households. Employers can support employees by being aware of the challenges that parents may face throughout the school year and, where possible, being accommodating towards workers who might be struggling with caring responsibilities in order to find a way that both supports working parents/carers but which also ensures that they can continue to thrive at work. It is not an easy balance to strike.
With an increased focus on flexible working practices across all sectors we have seen our clients experiencing an increase in flexible working requests, and not just from parents. In order to attract and retain talent, flexible working practices are now a must for many organisations. An accommodating approach towards family and caring obligations says a lot about the culture of an organisation and will, in the long run, engender loyalty among its workforce. All the evidence suggests that employees who can combine their work alongside their outside commitments and interests are often more productive with less time.
Exit part-time employees and embrace smart-time employees.