According to the American Psychological Association, the fear of the unknown — classmates, teachers, the school building — is as stressful for parents as it is for children hopping on the school bus. Have you noticed heightened tensions during the end of summer months? Does productivity go down in early September each year due to absences, tardiness, and employees having to leave early? These are all most likely due to the back to school craziness parents go through.
Knowing this, many employers use the time before back-to-school to set up employee engagement opportunities. Parents with school age children will have to deal with unforeseen circumstances that arise from situations at school, so it’s not a bad idea to have some open communication about the adjustments that will need to be made and support that can be provided by the company and fellow employees. From a management perspective, addressing back to school pressures head on will result in a happier and therefore more productive workforce.
Communication is the Key to Understanding Parental Concerns
Those who run the company are often parents themselves, so there is a level of understanding when it comes to sending children back to school, but the employee dynamic of working a set schedule for someone else creates an additional level of pressure that company owners and upper level management may not be completely in touch with. Those who “walk the floor” and speak one on one with workers are better prepared to adapt to changes and seasonal challenges.
In a recent article in Forbes, “Why Talking With Your Employees Matters”, Edie Ames, president of Morton’s The Steakhouse, relates a key element of her management philosophy. “Spending time with your people and showing that you genuinely care about them will make you successful,” she is quoted as saying. Morton’s employs five thousand people worldwide and Edie makes it a mission to speak personally with each of them, from vice presidents down to part-time wait staff. Not surprisingly, much of her time is spent traveling to Morton’s eighty-one locations.
Back to School Employee Engagement Activities
Creating employee engagement opportunities and simply talking to those who work for you, on a human level, can reveal much about what motivates them, and more importantly, what impedes them from being successful. For instance, would life be easier during the school year if flexible schedules were available? Is it possible to build in time off to take a child to school on the first day, meet with teachers, or attend shows and school activities? Set up some events where you and your employees can talk about topics like this openly.
Company sponsored “school lunches” are a good example. Get everyone together and talk about flex scheduling or even make healthy school lunches the topic. Most of your employees could probably benefit from a lesson in how to make healthy brown bag lunches. Other great topics for school lunches at work are Financial Assistance for Families, Homework Help, School Supplies, Healthy Eating, and Physical Fitness. More information on each of these can be found at the USA.gov site under “Back to School” topics.
Employees Going Back to School
Keep in mind, not every student returning for a new semester is going to be the child of one of your employees. There are also people working directly for you who will be returning to classes in the fall. We’ll be talking more about that and other back to school issues in a series of upcoming posts, so be sure to subscribe to our blog today before you leave this page.
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