How to Support Employees Caring for Young Children

Posted by Michele Bell on September 27, 2018

Caring for young children is stressful for employees.  From day-to-day challenges likes sleep, tantrums and separation anxiety to more significant concerns like ADHD and autism, child development issues lead to worry, distraction and lost time at work.  And employees probably aren’t talking about their concerns for fear of being stigmatized as a less than committed employee. 

Chances are, you have an employee struggling with one of the scenarios below whether it's sleep deprivation or the stress that comes from balancing the competing demands of work and home. Read on to learn about the challenges your employees are facing and simple ways you can better support them.

Joe

Joe - Sleep deprivation is impacting his work and health:

Joe is the father of three-year-old Lucy, who just recently started having trouble falling and staying asleep.  This means she’s oversleeping in the morning and having tantrums at daycare, forcing Joe to leave work in the middle of the day to pick her up.  The pediatrician said that sleep disturbance isn’t unusual at this age and to “wait and see.” Meanwhile Joe, his wife and Lucy are all tired. Instead going to work on time and having a productive day, Joe is spending countless hours researching how to support Lucy so he can regain balance in his life.

The Impact on Your Company:

Studies reveal that parents of young children have a shorter duration of sleep (less than the recommended duration) and high levels of sleep deprivation (Hagen, Mirer, Palta, & Peppard, 2013). 41% of parents of young children, compared to 33% of adults with no children, slept less than seven hours. This loss of sleep increases stress and impacts how brains learn and remember, significantly decreasing productivity. When deprived of sleep, employees are significantly more likely to make bad decisions and exercise poor judgment — which could end up costing time and energy to correct.

The Solution:

As an employer, supporting Joe might include offering flexible scheduling or the option to work from home to help support his daughter. And offering Cognoa as a benefit would provide research-backed activities to address Lucy’s sleep issues as well as access to advice from behavioral experts on sleep and other common challenges like tantrums.  

Mary

Mary - Cutting back on hours to care for her grandson

Mary is the grandmother and often the primary caregiver of 18-month-old Logan. He seems to be developing a lot slower than his sister did at the same age and she’s very concerned.  These worries mean Mary is less focused at work and is thinking about cutting back to part-time or leaving entirely because she worries a nanny will not be able to care for him properly. Her daughter’s complicated work schedule and lack of resources have prevented the family from having a comprehensive developmental screening to get the answers they need.

The Impact on Your Company:

Replacing Mary could cost up to 9 months in salary, even if you could find someone equally talented and experienced. These costs include hiring, onboarding, training, ramp time to peak productivity, the loss of engagement from others due to high turnover, higher business error rates, and general culture impacts. In the meantime, Mary is unfocused, less productive and has a high rate of absenteeism.

The Solution:

A benefit like Cognoa provides a clinically validated assessment that could help Mary identify whether Logan is at risk for developmental delay and also provide care guidance to help her with next steps - including sharing the results of her assessment with her pediatrician. Getting Mary this support may expedite a diagnosis for developmental delays, including autism. At the same time, Mary would feel empowered to support Logan at home using Cognoa’s personalized research-based activities. These solutions would lower Mary’s stress, reduce the amount of time she has to be out of the office, increase her loyalty to her employer and make her more likely to stay at work full-time.

Jennifer

Jennifer - Burnout risk balancing home and work:

Jennifer has been back in the workforce for a while with her children, two-year-old Joanne and four-year-old Matt.  But even though she loves her job and she’s good at it, the daily stress of figuring out drop off, pick up, snacks, and activities feels overwhelming and her performance is slipping. Jennifer also feels that mentioning the stress will stigmatize her at work and make her look less professional amongst her peers. This means that instead of feeling fulfilled, Jennifer is depressed, feels isolated and just doesn’t have the energy she used to.

The Impact on Your Company:

Jennifer’s stress, plus her reluctance to share her parenting challenges openly with her supervisor, mean she’s trying to do it all by being “super mom”.  While she may think she’s hiding her stress, she’s likely unaware of how the quality of her work is suffering. And since Jennifer's managers don't have this background context, they might feel her job performance is slipping with no explanation why and may be pursuing disciplinary action.

The Solution:

Openly acknowledging caregiving stress and providing benefits that support caregiver needs like flexible scheduling, working from home, back-up childcare, meal prep services and transportation for children could allow Jennifer to more fully focus on her job.  And bringing these issues into the open by hosting parent discussions or experts presenting educational webinars and Q&A for caregivers and their managers could create a sense of relief for all employees that their company understands the competing demands of work and home.

Conclusion:

Being aware and openly acknowledging the stress of being a working caregiver for young children is often the first step to making your company a great place to work.  If you’d like to learn more about how Cognoa’s unique benefits can help you support your employees, attract top talent and save your company time and money, click below to schedule a call.

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