October 30, 2020
Business Reporter, Axios
Many parents have found themselves struggling with work-life balance during the pandemic. As they juggle a full-time job with taking care of their children, many find themselves not having the emotional and mental capacity to commit themselves to both fully. Worse still, some working parents don't have support or childcare benefits from their employer.
To address the importance of businesses having childcare resources, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosted a panel titled "Piecing Together Solutions: Employers, Working Parents, and the Childcare Equation," moderated by Erica Pandey, a business reporter for Axios. Here are four takeaways from their discussion.
Companies Are Embracing Work-Life Balance Now More Than Ever
According to Nicole D'uva, associate vice president of employee health and LifeWork Strategies at Adventist, people's personal lives weren't always reflected or brought into the office before COVID-19. With the pandemic forcing professionals to work remotely, many no longer could keep the two separated.
D'uva noted that employers have started to realize that "one bleeds into the next," which gives organizations a greater appreciation for work-life balance.
Employers Should Place Greater Emphasis on Childcare Benefits for Employees
During COVID-19, companies have seen firsthand how hard it is to balance taking care of a family while working a full-time job from home. Out of respect for what their employees were going through, they placed greater importance on childcare benefits because it clearly helps their employees.
D'uva noted that this exposure was welcomed and ultimately improved upon company culture. For instance, her organization shifted their culture to a more "understanding and empathetic supervision model, where we're really focused on wanting what's best, not only for the employee, but also their family," she said.
Some Companies Won't Provide Childcare Benefits Because of Financial Fears (But They Should)
Not every company has been able to provide strong, all-encompassing childcare benefits to employees. Many employers fear the financial implications of such programs at a time when they are struggling simply to keep stay in business, let alone offer additional services for remote workers.
If money is a company's hesitation as to why they cannot provide robust childcare and family services, Debbie McKinley, vice president of human resources and international operations at Home Depot, believes they should take a step back and reassess their priorities.
"If we take care of our associates, they'll take care of our customers, and everything else takes care of itself," she said. "[By] helping their associates bring their best selves to work, [companies] drive productivity by actually backing up and taking care of their associates' needs first."
Even When Their Workforce is Home, Companies Should Offer Online Resources
Taking care of children and working a full-time job is hard, especially when everyone is living, working and learning under the same roof. Employees still need tutoring and educational activities for their children while they're home, though they may not have the time or energy to find and research them. Some companies have begun offering portals where their employees can access all this information and their discounts in one place, without any stress.
McKinley explained how Home Depot offers an online family resource center where associates can access resources.
"We've organized it by age group for children to make it easier to find the resources that our associates need and whatever might be right for their families," McKinley said. "Part of our focus has been on helping working parents organize these resources because it's just been a lot of change very quickly."