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Virtual contact centers have been on the rise for several years. Now, with COVID-19 forcing companies to social distance, even more contact center employees are working from home.
In normal conditions, remote work would bring big benefits to productivity and employee morale. However, many employees are stressed wondering how they’ll juggle remote work with their children’s school year in the aftermath of the pandemic.
How can companies help employees manage these competing priorities while staying engaged and productive at work? While there’s no foolproof solution for the challenges ahead, these strategies will help companies and employees cope.
Keep employees at home
Countless companies are still nixing plans to bring employees back to the office as it becomes clear the pandemic fluctuations will continue, and since many working parents continue to have issues with childcare. That’s especially true in areas where child care centers remain closed and parents have limited options for childcare. By keeping staff at home, you eliminate the need for employees to choose between their job and their children.
Provide childcare support
Larger employers may be able to lend a hand when it comes to finding childcare. In addition to greater flexibility for paid leave, some employers are implementing or expanding work-sponsored daycare programs and childcare benefits.
Offer flexible scheduling
Flexible scheduling is the most important change that employers can make to support work-from-home staff during the pandemic. However, offering flexibility only to parents is a decision primed for conflict. Instead, companies should apply flexibility equally while encouraging accountability from work-from-home staff.
Offer Educational Benefits
Many employers are seeing the benefits of supporting their employees’ education goals through tuition reimbursement, as well as programs that help staff find company advancement. There are some excellent and affordable online degree programs that are perfect for working professionals, and many have fast-track options. Many degrees pertain to business administration and other commercial interests, so they can help open doors for your staff with upper management dreams.
Help employees save on back-to-school buys
Learning from home doesn’t just require more time from parents--it also requires more money. Between computers and digital subscriptions, e-learning can take hundreds of dollars more out of parents’ pockets if they must return to online school. If your budget allows, why not provide your employees with relatively inexpensive tech such as headphones that can be used either for either work or school?
A good pair of headphones will let your employees shut out the sounds of their children’s online classes--or keep the kids from being distracted by the noise parents make while doing their job. If you can’t offer a stipend to help cover those costs, tipping employees off on the best ways to save money on school supplies is a great way to show support.
Check in with working parents
Parents may feel guilty that they’re not performing up to their usual standards. One of the easiest (and cheapest!) ways that employers can support working parents is by simply checking in. By asking parents how the school year is progressing and expressing appreciation for their efforts at work, you let employees know that they’re still a valued member of the team. Also, it helps employees maintain a positive and balanced home environment so they can stay healthy.
Helping your employees through this challenging time isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also a smart move for your company. According to USA Today, 92% of employees who feel supported by their employer through the pandemic say they plan to stay at their job for at least the next year. In a time that’s just as challenging for employers as it is for employees, investing in staff retention is simply good business.