Posts

Working Parents and How They’re Dealing with Time

The stress and uncertainty brought on by a year of the COVID-19 pandemic has left working parents struggling to find a child care solution that not only meets the expectations of their employers, but also the social and educational development of their children.

A new survey of working parents done by Bright Horizons revealed that over three-quarters (78%) of parents whose children are not in a child care centre or school setting are worried that their child is missing out on social and other developmental opportunities. Almost half of parents (46%) with a nanny or in-home care provider agree that a child care centre or school setting would provide more opportunities to socialise with other children, and 4 in 10 believe it would provide educational opportunities (41%) and/or more engaging activities (38%) for their child. On the other hand, two-thirds (67%) of parents with children in a child care centre or school environment feel their arrangement supports the social development of their child.

In light of these results the CEO of Bright Horizons, Stephen Kramer said: ” Working parents have spent the past 10 months being very nimble, pivoting on a daily basis as the world follows the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. But after almost a year of living, working and caregiving from home, parents are in need of a consistent, reliable child care solution that enables them to focus on their work while keeping their children safe and healthy and also supporting the social, emotional and intellectual growth of their children.”

According to the aforementioned survey, the majority of parents (97%) with children in a child care centre or school setting feel their arrangement allows them to focus on their work. The survey also revealed that most parents (89%) whose children do not attend a child care centre would consider this option for their child in the foreseeable future. The inability to juggle parenting and work (34%), along with children becoming increasingly bored at home (29%), are the factors that will weigh most heavily in parents’ decision to enrol in group education settings.

There is often talk about the “balancing act” of managing work and parenting, which assumes that the solution is a combination of compromise, multitasking, and choosing an understanding employer. But there are limits to compromise, and multitasking is exhausting. And we do not all have the good fortune or opportunity to choose a flexible and understanding employer. Even if we do, this choice can be undermined by the inherent demands of the work or the realities of who gets promoted, whose role is made redundant, and who gets pay raises.

Empathising with and supporting your employees with children during these difficult times can help set up your organisation for long-term success. Not only can it help you retain top employees, but it can also help these employees be more productive and can improve your employer brand and broader brand perception. Here are a few specific examples of ways employers are supporting working parents at this time, along with best practices your organisation can consider. Not every organisation will have the financial resources to offer a full range of support, but some of the practices outlined here can be implemented regardless of company size and resources.

Top employers offer working parents added support

Some technology companies and other larger organisations have recognized that overseeing virtual learning is challenging even for the most tech-savvy parents. To support parents during the ongoing pandemic, Accenture partnered with Bright Horizons, the childcare provider, to offer employees access to small-group, part-time school day supervision at a subsidized cost. Other organisations such as Microsoft and Bank of America are also offering this benefit to employees.

Bank of America is also offering employees benefits such as $100 in childcare reimbursement per day and virtual experiences for school-aged children. School-aged children of employees can participate in tutoring, virtual field trips and after-school programs through the non-profit online learning tool, Khan Academy. Working parents also have access to an online hub that features information about childcare, virtual education resources and opportunities to connect with other parents.

Citigroup is adding new employee benefits to help working parents balance their day-to-day work and virtual learning. The organisation is offering employees discounts on test preparation and tutoring services to kick off the new school year. Employees can receive assistance with finding an educational caregiver to supervise their children’s online learning and if they prefer small group learning, they can be matched with other families and educators.

Supporting flexible scheduling

The uprise in remote work since the initial COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 leaves many individuals wondering whether they’re ‘working from home’ or ‘living at work.’ In the absence of set times in the office, employees across organisations are often taking a different approach to their working hours. Some start the day earlier or work later than they did before the pandemic because they don’t have to spend the extra time commuting. Others need to take a break during the day to help children with virtual learning or to run an errand for an at-risk relative. Due to this shift, employers should consider placing less emphasis on gauging success based on showing up at a certain time and instead embrace flexible, employee-driven scheduling.

Starting with new hire onboarding, encourage employees to block time on their calendars when they might have personal conflicts – such as supervising virtual learning or preparing lunch for their children. Foster a culture in which this type of time blocking is widely accepted and employees do not face negative repercussions for not being available at specific times. Encourage new hires to speak up as soon as possible if they’re struggling to balance their home and work schedules. This can help you identify solutions to set up for immediate success your new employees who are working parents, rather than only having this discussion if the employee’s performance noticeably suffers.

Rethinking performance reviews

Many employees who have faced challenges with juggling work and parenting responsibilities are concerned that this balancing act will lead to poor performance reviews. Google, for example, suspended performance reviews due to the pandemic in March and recently decided to reinstate them. In a recent survey of 870 Google employees who are parents, many indicated they expect the upcoming assessments to show that their job performance suffered in recent months. Others are asking Google for an option to opt out of this review cycle, which determines raises and promotions.

Other organisations are taking different approaches to performance management. Facebook suspended its usual performance ratings in early 2020. Instead, all employees who exceed expectations will receive bonuses. Facebook and other tech companies like Netflix and Google have also implemented performance management initiatives such as providing constant feedback, the ‘Keeper Test’ (in which a manager is asked, ‘Would you fight to keep that employee?’), and separating performance reviews, salary discussions and peer reviews.

A recent survey from Willis Towers Watson found that 66% of employers are not planning to alter performance expectations or career development and promotion processes for workers dealing with childcare issues. Whether employees are working parents or not, they have spent the past six months adapting to this new normal while doing their best to perform well in their roles. The unusual circumstances surrounding the pandemic need to be taken into consideration during performance reviews. This might mean setting up more frequent, informal check-ins instead of formal annual reviews for the time being or having a more open, two-way conversation rather than gauging success based on measurable numbers. By showing understanding, companies demonstrate that they truly care about their employees, not only generating higher productivity in the near term, but also strengthening employee loyalty in the long term.

In conclusion, about 41% of US employees between the ages of 20 and 54 have a child at home, meaning two in five employees are currently managing work and childcare or education in one way or another. By understanding the strain the pandemic has put on all employees – including working parents – your organisation can put a plan in place to better support your team, retain employees and drive results that will support long-term business success.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

B_txt_14

Sources:

https://www.parents.com/parenting/moms/healthy-mom/time-management-tips/
https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210119005073/en/Working-Parents-Prioritize-Social-Development-in-Considering-Pandemic-Child-Care-Solution
https://qz.com/work/958747/the-eisenhower-box-helped-me-balance-parenting-and-work/

Effective Screen Time While Working from Home

Before the quarantine, most of us likely thought that we have spent almost all of our workday at the computer. But little did we know that you could spend so much more. Between commutes, meetings, chats, watercooler talks, coffee breaks, and lunches, we had many opportunities throughout the day where our eyes would have less screen time and detach from the digital realm.

Now with those natural breaks eliminated, there’s little to no break from the connection to technology. In particular, video calls add an extra layer of fatigue. Having to focus on multiple faces simultaneously while also being conscious that everyone can see you creates an added layer of mental and emotional exhaustion that wouldn’t be experienced as acutely in an in-person setting. The extra time in front of the computer can also cause eye strain and muscle fatigue because you need to hold your body rigid for hours to stay inside a camera’s range.

A recent study found that the average office worker spends 1,700 hours per year in front of a computer screen — and that was before many of us began working from home. Add to that our frequent use of phones and other digital devices, and you’ve got a recipe for unhappy — and possibly unhealthy — eyes. What are the implications for the eyes during this period of greatly increased screen time?

When we’re moving between meetings and offices and interacting with people face-to-face, it’s a simple fact that we move our eyes more. We blink more, which helps keep the eyes lubricated and comfortable. But when we look at a screen for extended periods, we tend not to blink. In fact, focusing the eyes on computer screens or other digital displays has been shown to reduce a person’s blink rate by a third to a half.

According to Esen Akpek, professor of ophthalmology at Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine and an expert in dry eye, not only does extensive gazing — such as that which occurs when reading on a computer screen — dry the eyes, it also starts a vicious cycle. “When your eyes become dry, that reduces reading speed, which further increases exposure time and worsens dryness,” Akpek has said, “and this can ultimately lead to inflammation of the eye surface and a self-perpetuating chronic dry eye.”

Gone are the days when we could break away from our computers with post-work pub trips, theatre visits, or meals out. Work events and conferences, too, once provided a much-needed respite from staring at displays all day, while meetings could be conducted device-free and in-person. Due to ongoing lockdown measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we’ve come to rely on screens more than ever; not just for work, but to keep our social lives going, too.

In order to help your time management and regain energy, there are ways that can reduce or eliminate technology throughout the day. Here are a few tips and tricks that have been proved to be most effective.

Limit meeting duration

Normally, setting aside blocks of time to get work done is a good idea. But if you find virtual meetings draining, this practice is even more essential for you right now. Block out time on your schedule where you’re not available for meetings so that you can temper how much virtual communication you have each day. That could look like setting aside most of a morning or afternoon as a meeting-free time or blocking out a few one-hour chunks of time throughout the day to detach and focus on other work.

More physical less digital

In order to balance out the increased screen time both on and off the clock, look for ways that you can take the low-tech route. Brainstorming for an article? Write out your thoughts on paper. Creating a road map for a big project? Sketch the initial draft on a white board. Reading a book? Pick up a print copy. Exercising? Go outside on a run. Anytime you can reasonably choose a physical option over a digital one, take it. Stepping away from the computer not only offers you a digital break, but can help you be more creative.

Get up and move

To cancel out the fatigue caused by sitting rigidly in front of your computer, move around as much as you can. In between meetings, take a walk to the kitchen to refill your water or coffee. When you need a quick break, do a few simple movements like rolling your shoulders to get the blood flowing. If you have a standing desk, move it up and down so you’re able to both sit and stand throughout the day. If you don’t have a standing desk, put your computer on a high counter or bureau to get an opportunity to stretch your legs. And if you’re on a normal phone call and don’t need to be taking notes or looking at documents while you talk, consider standing up or even walking back and forth during the conversation.

Activate the blue-light filter on all of your devices

One of the most effective ways to immediately reduce eye strain is by installing a filter that warms the tone of your display. Although the eyes absorb blue light naturally, prolonged exposure from computer displays can lead to eye strain, according to Prevent Blindness. The consequences include irritation as well as difficulty focusing.

There are a number of free tools out there, including f.lux and the open-source Lightbulb, which users can download immediately in order to modify the tones on their displays. macOS and Windows 10 users can also opt to make use of night-time filters bundled into their operating systems. These can be found under display settings in each OS and can be activated throughout the day if needs be, not just at night.

Tech-free breaks

Although it may feel more “efficient” to eat lunch at your computer, your brain will thank you for taking a break from the screen. Eat lunch while chatting with your family members in the kitchen, looking out a window, or reading a physical book. Stepping away from technology not only gives your brain a break but also gives you the added bonus of perspective. I find that even when I take a short lunch of 15 to 20 minutes where I simply eat without doing anything else, I feel more peaceful at the end than I did before. I also find that I tend to have a clearer sense of the big picture of what’s occurring in my life and work.

Another practice that’s benefiting myself as well as many of my time management coaching clients is post-work outdoor physical activity. This includes taking a walk, playing basketball in a driveway, gardening, or anything else that gets you active. This split from the digital world refreshes your brain and helps to create some separation from the end of your work day and the beginning of your personal time.

Don’t e-socialise right after working hours

In the last few weeks, we’ve been forced to find increasingly creative ways to stay in touch with our friends and loved ones – whether on Zoom, Skype, Google Meet or Google Hangout.

Just as you wish to break up your working day, it’s important not to hop straight from work to online catchups, however. You should leave a little room for a break to reduce the strain on your eyes, perhaps by getting up for a short walk, making a snack, or catching up with the people you live with. Try to leave yourself a little breathing room in the schedule while organising your digital commitments to ensure you aren’t glued to your computer, tablet or smartphone all morning.

Take up a new hobby

Besides saving time on travel, lockdown has freed up dozens of hours per week that would have otherwise been spent on going out or meeting up with people in-person. While this is the perfect time to catch up on boxsets, or the latest shows that have passed us by, it’s critical we don’t fill all these hours up with yet more screen-related activities.

It could be the best time to engage in a long-lost passion, learn how to cook, or take up more exercise. There are hundreds of activities you can take up now and then throughout the lockdown period to ensure you’re keeping yourself entertained while resting your eyes after a day locked to your computer. This may also help to more effectively maintain a work-life balance, with these lines threatening to become intertwined very easily.

When it’s possible to go back to more in-person communications, it will be a wonderful relief. But in the immediate term, some of the added digital load is unavoidable. These strategies can help you counter that load and reduce digital fatigue.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

B_txt_14

Sources:

https://www.itpro.co.uk/business/business-strategy/355372/8-tips-for-reducing-screen-fatigue-while-working-from-home
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/articles/protect-your-eyes-from-screen-time
https://hbr.org/2020/05/5-tips-to-reduce-screen-time-while-youre-wfh

Working from Home in the VUCA World

The Covid-19 virus has reached the pandemic level. This has brought up to everyone’s attention that we are experiencing the full-force of the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world.

Stock markets have taken a dive, supplies have slowly started to be stretched, events are being cancelled all over the world and travel bans are in-place in various countries. One thing is certain as of this moment, that our work patterns have changed, maybe even forever. For now, we are only talking about the short-term.

Many organisations and small businesses have instilled mandatory ‘work from home’ arrangements whilst others have banned any face-to-face client meetings and international travel. Given the fact that now everybody who can, works from home, it has taken some of the novelty around this subject. As with anything in this world, every unique situation has its pros and cons.

Job descriptions that still offer the old 9-to-5 model without any possibility of flexible working hours are rarely convincing anymore. It must also be taken into account that digitalisation has also changed the game by shifting old paradigms. Nowadays, employees strive for self-realisation and want to find a job that fulfils them. Their own personal demands put them under pressure, because if we are being honest, even the best job in the world will eventually fall into routine.

The ever-growing technological advancements also put a strain into today’s workers. Artificial Intelligence, robotics, machine learning are the ‘new kids on the block’ with large corporations giving them their full attention. They are posing a challenge to people’s intelligence, our talents and skills. The question that is on everyone’s lips is will humans be replaced by machines. Will that push people towards jobs with a more humanistic side to them?

Thousands of people are likely to be working from home for the first time this week due to the coronavirus outbreak. For others, it’s just like any other week. However, everyone will need their own customised solution to keep themselves productive during these trying times. As mentioned above, there are good news and bad news when it comes to working from home.

Firstly, we have the good news. People may end up being more productive when they don’t spend hours commuting or in meetings, taking long lunches or catching up with the latest gossip around the water cooler.

Secondly, there is bad news ahead of us as well. People will have to set office routines without the external pressure to turn up on time, to be productive and take regular meal breaks. Self-discipline is of the utmost importance when working from home and some sound advice is to actually get dressed for work, even though working whilst still in your pyjamas sounds like the perfect working scenario. But if you talk to colleagues or customers over video links, appearances must be kept, plus it gives you the feeling that you’re actually at work which increases productivity. Talking to your co-workers on subjects even unrelated to work may help you keep engaged.

What are Psychometric Tests?

If you haven’t had to complete a psychometric test up until now, stop worrying. You definitely will. Chances are that at your next job interview, you will go through this process. Generally, they consist of a series of timed questions, which revolve around numerical, verbal and logic skills. The tests are aimed to assess the abilities of candidates and their suitability for a particular role. Furthermore, it must be stated that these types of tests have evolved a lot since their inception. Now they are used in a wide array of organisational areas to find out whether someone has the necessary emotional intelligence to be a high-ranking manager, how good of a team player they are based given the fact that they are introverts or extroverts, if working from home has an impact on someone’s productivity and engagement level.

How can Great People Inside help you assess your ‘remote working’ workforce?

First of all, we are aware that the first step to improving the workforce is that of identifying the key aspects that define your workforce. Once we have accomplished this first step, we will know what the key performance indicators are, what to look for when assessing employees by developing a well-structured competence system.

Secondly, our platform is extremely easy to customise in order for it to meet your specific needs. We offer you the possibility of either choosing one of the available models we have in place or you can request the appropriate dimensions to match your specific needs, thus making your whole evaluation process a lot easier.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

B_txt_14