Over the past year and a half, many employees have had the benefit of working remotely. Their families have gotten used to them being at home and having them around. Children have gotten used to their parents being home for meals and to help with homework. Spouses have adjusted to having another set of hands around the house. For some, the proverbial work-life balance has improved in the last couple years.
The Great Resignation is here. So, as we transition back to in-person and hybrid work, leaders need to focus on engaging employees while ensuring that they are still maintaining a work-life balance for the benefit of themselves, their companies, and their families.
Workplace leaders are in a unique spot to address the challenges their employees and their families face when returning to in-person or hybrid work. It might be easy to brush this aside and feel as though they can’t help, but leaders actually have the capacity to make this transition easier for their employees and their families.
Here are some ways that companies and workplace leaders can help ease the transition for employees and improve their work-life balance:
1. Partner with a childcare agency:
Employers can partner with a childcare agency to offer discounts to childcare centers or develop on-site childcare for parents returning to in-person work. Finding childcare when returning to the office can be a major stressor for families. Employers can help ease this burden by offering a safe place for children to go while their parents are working. If this is not a viable solution, connect with childcare agencies to offer discounts for childcare centers. An additional benefit would be to find a center that provides emergency childcare.
2. Partner with a grocery delivery service:
Employers can partner with a grocery delivery service (like Peapod or Amazon Fresh) to make it easier for families to get their groceries. and perhaps receive a discount on grocery deliveries. Spending less time at the grocery store means employees have more time to spend at home with their families.
3. Raffle meal delivery service coupons:
Employers can raffle off subscriptions to meal delivery services like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Employees can use these meal kits to make dinner at home with their families and avoid eating out, ordering takeout, or making an extra trip to the grocery store.
4. Offer employer-funded mental health services:
Employers can bring in a counselor on a specific day per week to offer counseling services to employees who are struggling with the return to in-person work or have any other concerns they need to address. These counselors can offer holistic services to the entire family either remotely or in-person, as children are also feeling the stress of the significant changes they are experiencing.
5. Provide subscriptions to mental health, meditation, and sleep apps and services:
Apps like Breathe and Calm can be very helpful for employees when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. Employers can provide subscriptions for their employees to ensure that they have access to these helpful resources. Companies like Full Circle Confidential Workplace Wellness provide wellness and mental health services in person or virtual. Supporting an employee's mental health isn’t just a good thing to do- It’s the right thing to do!
6. Create parent affinity groups:
Employers can create virtual or in-person groups so parents can support each other as they face the challenges of returning to in-person or hybrid work.
7. Make family time a priority:
Family time is crucial to maintaining a good work-life balance. Ensure employees that their family time will be respected. This can mean making sure an employee does not have to work at dinner time or being flexible when they need to pick up their children. Employers can offer support to their employees by making their family time a priority. Give your employees permission to shut off their devices during dinner to support health and wellness.
8. Understand FMLA and Paid Family Leave (PFL) laws:
Employers should understand their state’s PFL (if applicable) and federal FMLA laws and how these laws apply to their employees. Understanding these laws and effectively communicating how these laws coordinate with the organization’s policies will help companies best support parents and navigate the back-to-work process.
9. Provide supplies for employees still working from home or hybrid-working:
Make sure that your employees who are still working remotely or in a hybrid capacity have the supplies and equipment they need to be successful. This can mean providing them with computers, sit and stand desks, phones, and other equipment. Employers should make sure that their remote and hybrid employees are not left behind while their colleagues return to the office.
Giveaways are a fun way to get employees engaged while providing them with resources to help them and their families. Perhaps gas cards, Dunkin Donuts gift cards and transportation vouchers can help ease the financial burden for employees who have not had to worry about the cost of commuting over the past year.
Engaging employees as they return to in-person and hybrid work will not only help them, their families, and their work-life balance, but will help the organization as a whole. A happy, engaged employee will work harder and be more productive when they know that their employer truly cares.
If your organization needs help engaging your employees as you return to in-person and hybrid work, Flynn Barrett Consulting can help! Schedule a complimentary initial consultation to learn how we can help your organization and employees be more successful in their work-life balance.
Kerry Flynn Barrett is a seasoned executive with extensive experience in senior leadership roles and leading teams in healthcare human resources. She has a full range of experience in strategy, workforce assessment, planning, design, and implementation of workforce strategies, employee and labor relations, labor negotiations, employee engagement, effective communication strategies, and relationship building.