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September 2018 Newsletter
In This Issue
  • Thanks for Joining Us!
  • A Snapshot of the Canadian Worker
  • What Do Working Parents Need to Succeed?
  • How Can Employers Better Support Working Parents?
  • Quick Reference: Considerations For Alternative Work Schedules
  • Quick Reference: Communicate to Avoid Resentment
  • Quick Reference: Telecommuting Your Way to Success
  • Quick Reference: Is Flextime an Option?
  • Quick Reference: Can Job-Sharing Work in Your Organization?
  • Coach's Corner: Make Vacations Non-Negotiable
September 2018
Volume 5, Number 9

Thanks for Joining Us!

It can't be September! Can it? Where did our summer go? In the blink of an eye, we've gone from lazy, hazy days to the bustle of of a crisp, new season.
For many staff members, especially those with children just starting school, this time of year brings anxiety and stress as they struggle to cope with the demands of juggling work and family responsibilities. As a caring employer, it is important to gain an understanding of who working parents are, what they need to succeed, and the several kinds of flexible work arrangements you may consider to assist valued staff.

Keep reading for more learning!

It's a fact that most parents hold jobs; indeed, most of them must work for financial reasons. In order to understand how working parents are represented in the Canadian labour force, consider the following summary. 

Remember, these statistics are very likely reflected in your own organization. In a very real way, they can help business owners gain perspective and become more appreciative of the struggles that working parents can face. 
Source: The Vanier Insitute of the Family

What Do Working Parents Need to Succeed?

It’s undeniable that demand is growing for employers to offer more flexible work options. According to a study by Harris / Decima, 89 per cent of employees feel that a flexible work program makes a company more attractive, and flexible work was considered the second most important factor, after money, when Canadians are looking for a new job.

Flexible work arrangements not only affect your ability to attract top talent, it also has other flow on effects of improved employee engagement, retention, and performance. Flexibility in the workplace can take on many forms and different focuses.

Initiatives can relate to:
  • hours – flextime, compressed weeks, part-time
  • performance – results-oriented key performance indicators (KPIs), earned days off
  • workstyles – telecommuting, flexible workspaces, job sharing
  • lifestyle – phased-in retirement, on-site facilities (e.g. day cares, gym, housing)
You don’t have to be a big business to implement flexible work options. Use the above examples as inspiration for implementing flexible working best practices into your business. Flexible workplaces are as much about attitude and management culture as they are about formal programs. And any company that finds a way to implement more flexibility into their culture will find themselves winning top talent over their competitors.
Source: www.theheadhunters.ca
"Family-friendly benefits are important to all working Canadians," says Richard Yerema, Managing Editor of the Canada's Top 100 Employers project. "Employees' needs change over time, beginning with maternity and parental leave top-up and daycare assistance, then moving on to flexible and alternative working arrangements to help with childcare and caring for older family members."

How Can Employers Better Support Parents?

Working parents in the United Kingdom recently took part in a survey called Striking the Balance. They suggested five key actions which employers - both in the UK and right here in Canada - could adopt to better support working parents:

1. Practice increased flexibility
Increased flexibility can happen through the provision of policies, such as flextime or compressed hours. However, a flexible approach could simply include adjusting parents' schedules when they need to take time off to deal with emergencies. Some parents suggested allowing parents to work at home when their children are ill, or allowing the build-up of time off in lieu to facilitate other commitments.

2. Ensure equality of opportunity
Numerous parents commented that once they were on a part-time contract they were no longer eligible to apply for senior roles, or conversely managers or senior officials felt that they could no longer request flexibility. A number of respondents suggested solutions to this such as home-working or job-share.

3. Provide better information
Many respondents asked that their employers provided better, up-front information on the policies which are available to them, both statutory entitlements and company policy. A number of ways to communicate this information were suggested, for example using the staff intranet, company newsletters, during inductions, and staff workshops.

4. Offer Childcare Support
The cost of childcare can cause a significant financial burden for families, and finding affordable and suitable childcare can also be a challenge. Many parents suggested that their employer could help with childcare through providing a Childcare Voucher scheme, which can help parents save on their childcare bill.

Other parents suggested that employers make available onsite childcare for their employees. This is convenient for parents, and can also help save money on the cost.

5. Be more understanding
Aside from all other asks, many parents simply called for their employers to be more understanding of working parents and their needs. A number of respondents commented that they wished for their employer to be more approachable and open to supporting parents and discussing flexibility.

For those employers who offer family friendly work practices, parents called for employers to respect the policies in place, for example looking at the workload of part-time employees and managing their work expectations better, or not organizing meetings during non-working hours.


Coach's Corner: Make Vacation Non-Negotiable

We all know that vacations allow people to recharge their batteries and come back as better workers. As a smart business leader, it's incumbent upon you to scan your organization and determine: 1) Has every one of your people taken their allotted vacation in the past year? 2) Does anyone have significant accumulated rollover days? Who — and why? 3) How many of them are working parents?
Professionals working in high-performance organizations often, even in the absence of direct pressure to do so, voluntarily bypass holidays and time off. Among working parents, this practice is particularly dangerous, leading to burnout, family issues, performance decline, or attrition.

It's critical for the health of your employees - as well as the health of the organization - that everyone takes their entitled vacation. Here are four ways to ensure that happens: 

1. Have a Clear Employee Vacation Policy
First, make sure your employee vacation policy is clearly outlined. A policy that is clear and available to all shows that you, as the employer, value the importance of vacation time for employees. If your employees feel supported in taking their vacations, they are more likely to use them.

2. Make Vacationing Part of Workplace Wellness
A culture of workplace wellness is critical to encouraging a positive atmosphere and a productive team. Build vacation into this culture. 

3. Don't Tolerate Vacation Shaming
Vacation shaming occurs when co-workers, or even bosses, discourage people from taking vacations. Even if this is done in a joking manner, the result is that employees feel guilty for taking time off. If every employee feels free and able to take regular vacations, it’s less likely they will shame others for doing so.

4. Take Your Own Regular Vacations
One of the easiest ways to communicate the value and benefits of vacations to your employees is to take your own, and set boundaries around your time off. By doing this, you empower your employees to do the same.
Quick Reference: Important Considerations for Alternative Work Schedules
Organizations must consider the following questions to determine if flextime is a viable work option:

* How will flextime affect other work functions?
* Can the manager measure results and productivity effectively without frequent and regular supervision?
* Can the department provide accountability and clear performance expectations?
* Can the department establish “core hours” for managing peak periods, coordinating work among staff, scheduling meetings, office events, etc.?
* Can the department apply technology (computers, smartphone, voice mail, etc.) to help facilitate successful outcomes?
* How will the manager communicate assignments to the staff member?
* How will this flextime arrangement affect cross-training initiatives, team-based approaches and other such strategies?

Quick Reference: Communicate to Avoid Resentment

Working parents often get the worst of both worlds: Their kids have no idea — and even less appreciation — for the amount of sacrifice they make on a daily basis. And when they get to work, their colleagues without school-aged children (or children at all) resent that they get “special treatment” in the workplace, such as exclusive or preferred flex time and remote working options, etc.

The best way to address this issue is through communi-cation, and to help offended employees understand that working parents aren’t getting special treatment. Rather, the organization is simply doing the right thing: leaning forward to help at a time when it matters most. Instead of being resentful, all employees — those with back-to-school nightmares and those without — should be proud of where they work.

Quick Reference: Is Flextime an Option?

Flextime is a scheduling arrangement that permits variations in an employee’s starting and departure times, but does not change the total number of hours worked in a week. It may be applied to full-time and part-time positions. All formal flexible work arrangements require careful planning and advance approval; as well, not all tasks or positions are appropriate for flextime. However, flexible working is fast becoming the norm in many business sectors, including micro and small businesses. Arrangements may include:

* Fixed later starting and/or earlier departure times.
* Daily varied starting and departure times.
* Variations in the length of the workday (e.g. a seven-hour day followed by a ten-hour day).
* Compressed work schedules to complete a full-time work week in fewer than five days (i.e. four 8.75 hour days vs. five 7 hour days).
* Part-time hours.
* Telecommuting.

Progressive and forward-thinking businesses are increasingly offering their workforce the opportunity to work from home for some or part of their working hours. For your employees, the advantages include cost savings on commuting to work, more flexible hours to accommodate family responsibilities; and a more comfortable and peaceful environment.

Quick Reference: Telecommuting Your Way to Success

Telecommuting – an arrangement where an employee works remotely from a home-based office – can increase productivity of employees and the work unit. In order for telecommuting to work for your organization, it is vital to:

* Establish guidelines for when (and how long) telecommuting is acceptable.
* Have ways of making sure expectations are met.
* Trust your workers by focusing on the results, not the process.
* Don't cut corners on ergonomics; provide proper equipment as you normally would in the office, especially if the position requires high volume keyboarding.
* Provide access to a company intranet or extranet.
* Make the most of face-to-face contact through a regularly scheduled in-office meeting or shift.

Quick Reference: Can Job-Sharing Work in Your Organization?

To ease the stress of not having enough free time, some employees look to job sharing -- the process of splitting one full-time job between two people. Noted advantages of allowing job-sharing in the work place include: Reduced absenteeism; improved business continuity; retention of valued employees; increase productivity; smoother long-term operation; and recruitment enticements. 

If you have employees who might be interested in a job-sharing arrangement, what can you do to ensure the successful execution of a full-time job shared by two people? 

* Ensure the needs of both the organization AND the employee are met.
* Determine that both employees who join forces to fill one full-time job are willing to exert a maximum effort to ensure that this work model succeeds.
* Require clear and close coordination between the job sharers so everyone knows exactly who's responsible for what part of the shared job or tasks.
* Confirm that both job sharers are willing to be contacted occasionally on their “off” day in the event of an emergency, to respond to urgent inquiries or action requests. 
* Make sure other employees and managers understand exactly when each of the job-sharing team will be working. Distributing a written schedule will help. And timely e-mail messages and notes will help keep information clear and up to date.  
Parental Support Tips For Small Businesses.
Source: www.humanrights.gov.au
Determining the best support programs and alternative work options for your working parents requires understanding, know-how, and ability.

Contact Wendy Ellen Inc. for assistance today!
About Wendy Ellen Inc.
Wendy Ellen Inc. specializes in providing human resource and benefits management skills to small to mid-sized companies on an as-needed basis. From recruitment, Human Resource policy development and legislative compliance, employee retention and engagement, individual advisor/coaching, succession planning to employee development and performance, Wendy Ellen Inc. will help you protect your most valuable resource, your people.
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