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How Companies Can Meet the Needs of Single Parents

  • COVID-19 pandemic proves stressful for working parents, especially solo caregivers
  • Tips on how employers can accommodate single parents and keep them from experiencing burnout
  • Flexible scheduling options, encouraging breaks and time off, child care assistance, and more

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The COVID-19 pandemic proved particularly burdensome for working parents, who were forced to balance their daily tasks with child care responsibilities due to the closure of schools and child care facilities. Single parents faced even more stress, with single mothers’ participation in the labor force dropping more sharply than any other group.

The United States has one of the highest rates of single parents in the world, with nearly one-quarter of children living with a solo caregiver. When businesses place unrealistic demands on single parents, they’re more likely to experience burnout and physical or emotional health issues.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review suggests how companies can improve the working environment for employees who are single parents. Strategies include:

  • Making an effort to hire, rehire, or promote single parents
  • Recognizing that all employees have personal responsibilities and shouldn’t be available at all hours; this removes a presumption that employees are more valuable if they can be called upon at any time as well as a bias against single parents due to the perception that they are less able to respond to off-hours requests
  • Engaging in more open communication with single parents about their needs and how the company can help or accommodate them
  • Offering more scheduling options such as remote work, hybrid work, or flexible hours
  • Encouraging workers to take time off and build breaks into their day
  • Assisting with child care through efforts such as partnering with off-site child care facilities or helping reimburse employees for child care expenses

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