With the new school year having started or will be starting soon, many managers and employers are concerned about the balance parents have to make between their children’s school and workplace responsibilities. As a manager, how do you accommodate a parent’s need for time off with business needs?

As with any concerns you have with workplace relationships, start with open communication. Remember to take a step back and try to see the situation as your employees with children see it. Many working parents genuinely want to be able to successfully balance their work duties with parenting. Flexibility from employers with regards to accommodating child care needs and various school activities and functions is certainly ideal for employees, but from an employer’s perspective, the job still needs to get done. Talk with your employees to determine if you can come up with a plan that is mutually beneficial to both the employee and the organization. 

Whether the anticipated accommodation is an afternoon off once or twice a month for soccer games or ballet recitals, or a more regular modified work schedule to accommodate childcare, try some of the following steps to plan for the eventuality of time off for school activities or child-related needs:

  • Request that your employee’s give you as much notice as possible. Short of illness, many school events are planned in advance.
  • Determine what your true business needs are and how your employee’s duties fits in with this.
  • Construct a plan that will cover your employee’s time off, both planned and unplanned.
  • Identify and comply with employment laws that may protect the parent’s time off for children (e.g. FMLA, State Leave Laws, California’s School/Day Care Activities Leave, etc.).
  • Identify the proper and most effective way to motivate your employees to accomplish their tasks.
  • Practice patience and flexibility when working with employees with children.
  • Don’t discriminate against employee’s that have children.

Overall, look at this as an opportunity to build loyalty with your employees and work with them to build a solid plan that will help not only your business but also the employee’s need for the occasional flexible time off to manage school activities and events and unplanned illness or injury. When a plan is developed and properly implemented, the resulting increase in loyalty can boost productivity and efficiency, making for a balanced and well-rounded team.