The Human Resource: Back to school

We are approaching that time of year when our children are returning to the classrooms or perhaps beginning school for the first time. Summer fun will be winding down and more specifically schedules will be changing for many people to adjust for school such as the start or end of day care services, after school programs, and other child care activities. How does all of this impact your current employment as an employee or workforce as an employer?

This week let us first begin from the employee perspective, and what should be realized when seeking to make changes in your life to accommodate the realities of children going to school or the need to provide childcare on a schedule. Your employer is not required to make changes to your work schedule because your life’s circumstances have changed. However, the need to maintain life/work balance, and to meet the needs of your family are of high importance. Therefore, you should speak with your supervisor or manager about any work related impact you anticipate, as well as present any requests for a flexible work schedule or alternative work schedule. You should avoid a negative impact on your performance and on your employer by simply being late, leaving early, missing work, or demonstrating a lack of dependability because of child care responsibilities.

One possible option to consider is the request for a flexible work schedule, which is used to “shift” your works schedule. By shift, I mean you ask to start 30 minutes earlier and end 30 minutes earlier, or reverse it and start later and end later. This is representative of a flex schedule, the hours worked on a particular day do not change, but the start and end times shift equally and accordingly. This may aid you in handling before or after school child care needs, especially with those day care centers with strict drop off or pick up times.

Another schedule suggestion is to speak with your employer and determine if your position would have the opportunity to work remotely from a home office. Not all positions or organizations can allow for this type of work for a plethora of reasons, however in some cases a telecommuting situation may be ideal for both the employer and employee.

Regardless of the approach, the request, or the personal needs or obligations, as an employee you are expected to comply with established policies and procedures for reporting to work, calling out, using paid time off, etc. Review these policies and practices to make sure you understand both the expectation and consequences for failing to comply.

Employers should be expecting a variety of changes once a school year begins. These changes include late arrivals, increased call outs, early departures (both due to child care pick up needs of the employee and sick children at school), and possibly increased stress of parents with children just beginning school.

It is vitally important to educate, train, and reinforce policies and procedures related to calling out of work, notifying supervisors of tardiness, availability of flexible work arrangements and schedules, and the consequences for non-compliance. Similarly, be aware of the federal and state laws related to employee classification and compensation so you do not violate an employee’s rights when considering work schedules.

A very important factor to consider as an employer is consistency across your organization. The larger the organization, the more supervisors and managers there are between the employee and leadership, which means more chances for inconsistent practices. Train your staff well and demonstrate behaviors by example and through consistent handling with all employees. Be cognizant of the life work balance needs of your workforce and identify strategies and communications that will minimize stress and worry for your employees as they work diligently to manage their family and their job simultaneously.

** The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to: editor@chaddsfordlive.com

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About Warren Cook

Warren S. Cook is a co-founder of SymbianceHR and leads all client-consulting engagements. He is a human capital strategy management subject matter expert with more than 20 years of experience as a strategic business partner, project manager, and people leader across private and public sectors organizations. Warren is responsible for all client-consulting engagements from initial needs assessment and compliance review through delivery of customized complex human capital strategy solutions that meet the client's business goals. He has a proven track record of providing executive coaching and guidance to business leaders and human resource professionals at all levels including the C-Suite of Fortune 100 companies. Warren combines his human capital, project management, and business management experience with a philosophy of solving business challenges through the strategic implementation of policies, processes, and procedures to deliver sustainable solutions that demonstrate ROI, mitigate and manage risk, and empower organizational success. Warren is the author of “Applicant Interview Preparation – Practical Coaching for Today” and holds a bachelor of science degree in human resource management, a master’s of business administration in project management, and a master’s of science degree in industrial and organizational psychology. He is also a SHRM Certified Professional.

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