No matter how hard an hourly job is for workers, being a parent is even harder.
For a lot of employees, striking a balance between these two responsibilities is a difficult task.
Hourly workers come up against rigid scheduling, difficult bosses, and expensive childcare options. But by collaborating with working parents who rely on their shifts, you create a positive work environment and develop meaningful relationships with employees.
Over time, this management style can decrease employee turnover and foster loyalty in industries with otherwise high turnover.
With that in mind, here is a quick overview of the best ways to schedule and manage hourly working parents in 2017:
Ask About Availability Preferences
The first step in establishing a positive relationship with working parents is to ask about their availability. Some parents split childcare duties, and others manage it on their own. Inquiring about the ideal hours for each family gives parents an opportunity to voice their preferred schedules and potential issues before any conflicts arise.
As an employer, you can bring up this topic during the interview process. Otherwise, you can ask them to share their availability through a tool like When I Work in the early stages of the onboarding process.
By listening to an employee, you set a clear foundation for clear communication and mutually beneficial schedules. Plus, if working parents know you’re cooperative, they’re a lot more likely to put in their best effort at work — and stay at the job long-term!
Be Mindful of Early Mornings and Evenings
Most working parents want to take shifts when their children are at school or daycare. With that in mind, be sensitive to early morning and evening shifts when hiring working parents. If the job requires odd hours, be frank about it from the beginning.
You can always ask parents to cover lunch or the daytime hours. And even in a restaurant, where grueling evening hours are the status-quo, you can let parents of young children off early. For example, these staff members could arrive earlier to prep the restaurant rather than closing everything up in the early hours of the morning.
If you do need parents to sign up for an early morning or night shift, make sure to ask if it’s something they can pull off. If not, play with the schedule until you find a solution that works for everyone.
Provide Consistent Scheduling
Research shows that parental employment is one of the five uncertainties that can undermine a child’s sense of safety. Stability in a schedule, on the other hand, boosts kids’ feeling of comfort and decreases anxiety.
Given that, consistency is one of the hallmarks of a working environment that benefits parents (and their children). It means that workers can plan in advance, and their kids know what to expect about their family’s schedule.
Plan ahead of time which days each hourly worker gets off.
Making them back-to-back for a full weekend (even if it’s during the week) has a wonderful impact on the life of the family. It also gives workers adequate time to rest and recover from their shifts.
When possible, create a schedule in advance that works as a blueprint for everyone moving forward. When you do need to change things around, you can try to keep parents in their regular schedule. This approach also saves extra time for managers and business owners because they’re not creating a completely new schedule for staff members each week.
Release Staff Rotas at Fair Times
There’s nothing more disempowering for employees than not having control over their own time and schedule. Your efforts to give staff members their hours in advance have an immediate and impact on your work community.
But sometimes, changes and adjustments need to happen. Let’s say you just have to have someone to work the late shift, or it’s the holidays and you can’t function without every person there. In these cases, give as much notice as possible to parents.
When workers receive their schedules at least two weeks in advance, it offers them a buffer.
They can take the time to find childcare or trade shifts they can’t manage. By giving more than enough notice, you also help to keep employee morale and engagement high.
Focus on Collaboration and Communication
Scheduling can be a loaded topic for disgruntled employees. Workers get upset when they think they’re not getting enough time off or if they think other people have more flexible schedules.
When you have conversations with team members, try to diffuse rather than increase their frustrations. Practice active listening by making eye contact and nodding, which signals that you are listening to what they’re saying. Mirror the words back to employees, emphasizing your empathy for their feelings.
While dealing with complaints, use your best judgment to decide whether to change the schedule or keep it as is. Certain conflicts, such as family emergencies and health issues, need to be respected.
Treat each scenario as a separate situation, making your decision based on the unique circumstances in that moment.
There’s one thing that all the best bosses understand: your employees are not just workers, they’re people too.
By honoring their commitments — both at work and at home — you create an environment (and a job) they’ll never want to leave.