Work or Family? Employee Choices During COVID

Last week we hosted a webinar about employees with school aged children featuring an interview with local Covid law expert Rebecca Strauss from Miller Johnson.  In the webinar, she referenced a USA Today article that talks about the impact of the pandemic on working families.  The article mentioned in part:

“For organizations who are not providing the flexibility and support to work from home with children present, more than one-third of parents plan to quit within the next year…”

In a competitive labor market, statements like this can strike fear into the hearts of business leaders.  So how do we help employees who are balancing the needs of their families while safely completing their work?

Here are some steps for helping employees through this time:

  • Know your options: As an employer you have a wide range of options for the ways your employees work.  The Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) lays out the minimum requirements, but there are certainly many ways that employers can go above and beyond.  Keep an open mind when considering options for you and your team.  Some options include:
    • Full or intermittent leave time under the EFMLA provisions of the FFCRA
    • Adjusted work schedules
    • Remote work
  • Keep your workplace safe: Following the guidelines provided by the CDC, the State of Michigan, and OSHA will go a long way in making your employees feel safe at work.  It will also reduce anxiety while increasing the willingness of your employees to work onsite.
  • Listen to your employees: Ask your employees what they need to be successful in their work.  Depending on their family situation, health status, and Covid experiences, employees will have varying needs regarding their work environment.  Listen to those needs and try to accommodate them, if possible.
  • Be flexible: It is likely that things will change on short notice again this fall.  Be prepared to get a call from employees whose children are unexpectedly back home because a school has closed or a new twist in the pandemic response.  Planning for those scenarios now, will help minimize the impact later.

Once again, employers are headed into a time of significant change.  It is going to be difficult for everyone to find the best approach necessary to complete the work while maintaining a positive culture amid an everchanging pandemic.

In some cases, employers may be asking employees to make a choice between work and family.  In our experience, even if the employer wins that battle, they probably won’t end up with an engaged long-term employee.

What are you doing to work collaboratively with employees during this difficult time?  We’d love to hear your creative solutions!

``For organizations who are not providing the flexibility and support to work from home with children present, more than one-third of parents plan to quit within the next year…'' - USA Today article

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