Most parents with school-age children dread the summer holidays when it comes to juggling work and family.
For some teams, it can be difficult to comprehend this juggle, especially if they don’t have children/dependents. And if you are an employer with a small team, juggling multiple annual leave requests over the summer can be tricky.
To ensure a smooth and stress-free August and early September, employers have many options at their disposal. This could include things like allowing more remote working through the summer period.
This guide will explore how senior leadership teams can effectively manage this period and optimize flexible working requests.
Discuss strategies with all parents and carers
First of all, HR should ensure to have those conversations before the end of the school year. If that's not possible, have that conversation as soon as school is out, rather than waiting for issues to arise.
Parents and caregivers often find it challenging to determine the best combination of days off. They have to coordinate with grandparents, other parents, explore paid childcare options, or consider holiday camps. Make sure you have an early discussion about how to provide support. This can help employees feel at ease and enhance their ability to focus on their job.
You can either give guidelines to managers or make a company-wide announcement, depending on your company's size. Regardless of the approach, ensure the message is clear and communicated effectively to everyone involved.
Make the most of flexible work policies
One of the most effective ways to handle the situation is by implementing flexible work policies. To streamline the process, consider the following steps:
- Simplify the Application Process: Instead of a lengthy application and form-filling, create a straightforward and user-friendly process. Use digital forms or platforms to make it easy for employees to apply for flexible work arrangements.
- Clear Communication: Provide clear guidelines and expectations about the flexible work options available during that period. Ensure that employees are aware of the process and criteria for approval. This is helpful if you have a large number of employees applying.
- Speed up the Review Process: Expedite the review process to minimize waiting times. Assign dedicated personnel or a committee responsible for reviewing and responding to requests promptly.
- Training for Managers: Offer training to managers on how to effectively manage flexible work arrangements. This will help them support their team members and maintain productivity.
By implementing these strategies, you can create a more efficient process for handling flexible work requests during the summer holidays. This will contribute to a more positive work environment and increase employee satisfaction and productivity.
Offering flexible working
Don't forget to remind your staff of all of their flexible working options. This could include:
- flexible working hours
- working remotely
- compressed hours
- temporarily reducing the number of hours they work
- switching from full-time to part-time
- job shares
These are all options regardless of how long an employee has worked for the company. Thanks to a new law called the Flexible Working Bill, employees no longer have to have worked for a company for 26 weeks. Instead, employees have the right to work flexibly from day one. So those that need to spend time with their child as their child develops, this is incredibly helpful.
One of the most straightforward ways to handle requests is to schedule a meeting. The employee's manager and someone from HR should attend this.
Remember to be patient throughout the process, as it may not be as simple as standard flexible working. Parents might request specific changes, such as later start times on certain days, working remotely, or starting earlier on other days. While it may seem tedious, agreeing on these arrangements ahead of time allows everyone to make it work smoothly.
If you want to know more about how we can support your business, give our friendly team a call and you'll get straight through to someone who can help, like Josh. Or, if you're ready to apply, get started by clicking the button below.
Communicate with everybody
Everyone in the business needs to understand summer holiday arrangements. This entails ensuring that the team and clients are all informed.
Depending on the company's nature of business, designating someone to cover when others start later or finish earlier might be necessary. With the schedule in hand until school starts again, organizing this becomes easy.
Implementing a buddy system within the team can be beneficial. Pairing two employees allows one of them to handle any critical urgencies on the days the parent/carer has adjusted hours.
To facilitate communication, parents/carers can include their temporary working patterns in their email signatures or out-of-office notices. This provides easy access for their team members.
The goal is not to police them, but to avoid additional stress from multiple enquiries about their schedules. Having this information readily available helps minimize questions about working hours.
To address clients, issue a company-wide statement about the support provided to employees during school holidays. The team's manager can then share this information with relevant clients, along with the temporary working patterns for that period.
Make sure all staff are on board
Navigating the lack of understanding from employees without dependents or in more privileged situations can be tricky. To prevent bitter gossiping, proactive communication is essential beforehand. However, it's crucial to have a contingency plan in case the workload becomes overwhelming.
Occasionally, while the parent/carer employee is looking after their children, other employees may have to pick up the slack.
To address this, consider conducting regular workload reviews throughout the period to ensure a balanced distribution of tasks among teams. You can also explore temporary workforce support to provide assistance during peak periods. Additionally, consider putting non-urgent projects on pause until September.
Encouraging cross-training and collaboration allows employees to cover for one another during emergencies, fostering a supportive work environment. Offering flexible scheduling options to all employees promotes a sense of equity and understanding.
By adopting these strategies, you can proactively tackle potential issues. This creates a more cohesive and supportive work environment for everyone, ensuring that all employees feel valued and understood.
Reassess the company values
Consider reassessing the company values to shape how you want employees to feel. Company values impact the kind of bond they have with each other and the organization.
Ask yourself, do you want to cultivate an atmosphere of trust, compassion, and gratitude? It is during difficult times that your employees will form clear perceptions, and altering their opinions afterwards might be challenging.
Revisiting the company values and desired internal culture is crucial. By aligning with the right values, you can build a resilient and positive work environment.
This school holiday period will likely be a challenge, but, with the right strategies, it can leave the organisation stronger.