With "back to school" looking just a little different this year, we asked our partner companies what they're doing to make the transition as smooth as possible for parents.
Being a parent was hard already. Then came a pandemic that shuttered schools and childcare facilities and added "teacher" and "round-the-clock caretaker" to the list of things that American parents must be for their kids. And with many schools not planning to open for several more months (and many of the ones that have opened finding that they need to shut their doors again), it's looking like that will be the case for a while. Working parents will have to continue to juggle the wellbeing, education, and raising of their children while also doing their full-time jobs either remotely or in-person as essential workers.
Many companies are stepping up to help make that juggling go a little easier.
Some already had generous policies to support parents and others are experimenting with what works for their employees for the first time. While parent-specific policies have caused a stir at some tech companies, taking care of working parents allows them to participate more fully at work and improves retention across an organization.
Here at PowerToFly, we have the privilege of partnering with companies who truly believe in creating work environments where everyone—including and especially women and underrepresented minorities—can thrive. We asked several of our clients to share ways that they are supporting the working parents on their teams in the hopes that their ideas and policies can shed some light on what industry-leading companies are doing in this space and inspire others to do the same.
So, whether you're looking for ways that your company can do better, or if you're a job seeker looking for your next role at a parent-friendly company, we hope you'll be inspired by some of these initiatives:
Flatiron Health is enabling flexibility
"With parents of school-age children facing so much uncertainty during the pandemic, Flatiron Health has extended policies to support employees with children. Flatiron promotes a flexible working environment, allowing parents the time and space to attend to childcare and facilitate education. All Flatiron employees have been given permission to work remotely until July 2021, which allows parents to move temporarily to a location that may be more ideal to coordinate childcare and schooling. This flexible environment includes empowering parents to block their calendars for childcare and schooling and communicate openly to their teams about their roles and expectations as their children return to school. In partnership with The Next Generation, the Parents' Employee Resource Group (ERG) at Flatiron Health, parents are also invited to take part in supportive discussions via Slack conversations and in smaller Zoom support groups to highlight and address the needs of the parenting community."
Learn more about Flatiron Health here.
Bridgewater Associates is investing in parental wellbeing
"In response to COVID-19, Bridgewater Associates has made several enhancements to our existing benefits program to help employees and their families stay safe, juggle their personal responsibilities, and support their overall wellbeing in this time of uncertainty. An area of focus has been supporting working parents and caregivers during this time. In addition to existing parent discussion groups, generous PTO, and unlimited sick days that provide flexibility to all, we added these new benefits with parents in mind:
- Flexible working hours
- Additional discounts for online academic support and tutoring
- Assistance in sourcing educators, distance learning supervisors, and childcare professionals
- Expanded back-up childcare options
To address the coronavirus itself, the firm assists in finding local testing options, provides case management to those testing positive, and will put on a drive-up flu vaccination clinic in the fall for all employees and families to mitigate against the compounding risk of both viruses.
More about Bridgewater's approach to benefits here."
Learn more about Bridgewater here.
Elastic is encouraging parents to “shut it down”
"Elastic is supporting parents by providing essential time off during COVID-19 with regular shut-it-down days. Shut-it-down days happen twice a month, allowing parents (and all our Elasticians) time to rest, reset, and deal with challenges. In addition, all Elasticians have four weeks of COVID time off to use if a loved one is ill, for spending time with family for things like homeschooling, or just to take care of themselves (sometimes parents need extra care, too). We've also invited experts such as parent educator Julie King to run 'Parenting in a Pandemic' seminars that offer strategies for handling a changing education environment. Lastly, our Elasticians support one another through community Slack channels that offer a safe space to share practical advice for new parents, parents with teens, homeschooling, and beyond."
Learn more about Elastic here.
PwC is subsidizing childcare
"PwC is offering an array of options to help support working parents in the ways that works best for them. The firm recently introduced a sabbatical option for up to six months, is offering enhanced support for those working reduced schedules, and is giving some roles the option to participate in job sharing. PwC has doubled its back-up care reimbursement amount to $2,000, which can be used to pay any caregiver—including friends and family members—to help with child care. The firm's emphasis on protected time provides working parents time to tend to homeschool needs during the work day. The firm is offering discounts on tuition programs, tutoring, and college admissions counseling. PwC also offers mental health support resources for its employees and their families at no cost. This includes access to 1-on-1 virtual coaching, community support groups, free meditation and well-being apps, trauma counseling and online resources."
Facebook is changing employee evaluation
"Facebook made several changes to support our employees during this time. We removed all performance ratings as a way to address the anxiety, uncertainty, and conditions we were all dealing with. We introduced new paid-time off programs to care for family and are offering flexibility to our employees in terms of work schedules—allowing for alternate working hours—and the ability to go offline for chunks of hours, without taking paid time off. We've also provided financial support for work-from-home set ups and childcare.
By recognizing and acknowledging the variety of circumstances impacting so many people right now, we've helped to make sure that our teams empathize with this uncertainty and need for flexibility given whatever we may be facing personally. And from a recruiting perspective, we now offer candidates the ability to split their interview over multiple days.
Maxine Williams, Chief Diversity Officer at Facebook, puts it this way: 'When people feel vulnerable, they don't need you to solve the problem for them, but they do need to know that you are there for them if they need it.'"Learn more about Facebook here.
Schneider Electric is listening to parents
"At Schneider Electric, we are focused on listening to our working parents and quickly adapting to their needs as school starts back in this challenging environment. We have encouraged parents to take advantage of existing programs like flexible work arrangements, added more options (like online, phone, chat, and video counseling options) through our EAP for those needing additional support, and introduced new programs like temporary part-time options to better manage life's current demands. We are working alongside employees so they know they are not alone; bringing in external experts for live virtual sessions, offering forums for employees to share their concerns and ideas, and providing virtual training on everything from practical remote-working tips to how to build resilience and avoid burnout. The employee feedback we gain from surveys and crowdsourcing will lead to additional programs and resources in the coming weeks."
Learn more about Scheider Electric here.
CarGurus is seeking to understand parents' needs
"We aim to create a safe space for parents to share their concerns, fears, emotions and other thoughts pertaining to back to school. We have offered the following to the parents at CarGurus:
- An employee resource group (ERG) for working parents and caregivers to give a voice for the organization's parents
- Informal roundtable discussions with the working parents and executives at CarGurus to communicate any frustrations and discuss tips, tricks, and thoughts on how to care for children as we work remotely during the pandemic
- Unlimited paid time off (PTO), which the senior executive team highly encourages the company to use
- Options to decrease or end contributions to dependent care FSAs when camps and childcare facilities closed
- A premium membership to Care.com for all CarGurus employees
CarGurus' goal is to keep discussions open with our Parent ERG and continue to be flexible in terms of receiving feedback and adapting as the school year progresses. Knowing that what works this month may not work next month, we believe that being flexible and understanding will be one of the best things we can do for the working parents at CarGurus."
Learn more about CarGurus here.
Bounteous is providing resources to make schooling easier
"Bounteous understands that the school season will look a little different this year. Whether children have opted for in-person or remote learning, we know that this is unchartered territory for our parents. To navigate through this work and school from home experience, our team has created a B: Connected Guide filled with professional resources, helpful videos, and links as well as a calendar complete with supplemental activities to support families throughout the day.
Team members can access creative learning pages and inclusive social opportunities to engage children of all ages, including college-bound students. This guide also provides parents with tips around safe social interaction and a list of extracurriculars ranging from books clubs to cooking lessons, and more. We want to put our team members at ease and provide stability in and outside of the Bounteous community."
Learn more about Bounteous here.
AAA is bringing parents together to help each other
"AAA is happy to have a dedicated Business Resource Group called Parents@AAA. Our BRG is composed of parents from all backgrounds and walks of life, who span across all levels and roles within our organization, united under the common goal of supporting working parents. We are supporting parents and their children's unique back-to-school situations by providing resources tailored to their individual needs. We have compiled information on COVID requirements and district expectations across our 7 states, in one place for parents to easily navigate. We actively provide ongoing tips and best practices for parents to navigate these uncharted waters. We provide our parents with resources through our Employee Assistance Program for needs like counseling, parenting tips, homeschooling resources, and work-life balance best practices. We stay in the forefront of these changing times by having so many of our team members actively involved in helping one another, together."
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is connecting parents with childcare resources
"We want to say to working parents: we see you, and we want to help. Nearly a quarter of our workforce at Blue Cross NC has children age 13 and younger at home. While our own onsite backup childcare center will be closed through at least the end of 2020, we're supporting our parents in many ways during this time. We're:
- Providing qualified employees with a childcare subsidy to help offset costs for tutoring, remote learning supplies and equipment, childcare, and more
- Connecting our parents virtually through a "Pandemic Parenting" group on Yammer, our internal social media platform
- Offering discounts to childcare finders, like nanny services and Sitter City, and tutoring services
- Setting the expectation that leaders and employees will be open to flexible work schedules to support this new work life"
Gainsight is welcoming family member cameos
"At Gainsight, we have set up a slack support group and Employee Resource Group for employees with children. We also have arranged for flexible schedules and have a policy that welcomes children (and pets) to say hello in Zoom meetings. Over the summer, we also set up a 'Lil' Gainsters' Summer camp with Zoom meetings that included arts and crafts, reading with our CEO and CMO, and cooking segments. It was a blast!"
Learn more about Gainsight here.
Mindbody is enabling at-home school with tech
"Mindbody is implementing several new policies and support mechanisms for our working parents. We recognize that parents need flexibility in their jobs now more than ever, and to feel confident that they will not be evaluated in an inequitable fashion to their colleagues in their work performance. We are giving parents the opportunity to work with their leaders on their schedules and empowering them to do so. In addition, to create transparency for team members and their colleagues, we have updated the default Slack status options to include a designation for childcare. This indicates to others who may be contacting working parents that responses may be delayed. Additionally, there is a designated Slack channel for parents across the organization to share and connect. Finally, Mindbody is implementing a new IT hardware recycling program where our retired functional IT equipment like desktops, monitors, and laptops will be available for team members to have mailed to their homes for their children to use for distance learning. This program will be ongoing and meant to first support team members who are in need of financial assistance for IT hardware."
VideoAmp is putting parents first
"Our People Team quickly mobilized to figure out what the top concerns and priorities were for parents at VideoAmp. We used guided questions on topics like the tactics of back-to-school, emotional concerns, work implications, and employees' goals to better understand their needs. From what we learned, we're now encouraging all employees to be mindful of their peers' calendar work blocks and to respect time set aside for family meals, daily breaks, and time spent supporting their children with things like schoolwork.
Through our ongoing health and wellness initiatives, we strongly encourage kids to join our virtual dance and fitness classes with their parents. We also partner with Modern Health and offer company-funded mental health support, education, and resources for all employees and their eligible dependents. The telehealth service offers parent circles led by registered therapists where people can openly share their questions and concerns.
From its inception, VideoAmp has had a People First philosophy. We are passionate about health and wellness, and take the needs of our parent employees to heart. To this end, we offer annual vacation cash stipends to support taking time to reset and spend time with loved ones. For parents specifically, there are resources for child care and ongoing educational needs which they are eligible for from their first day at VideoAmp."
Learn more about VideoAmp here.
Chainalysis is welcoming inverted working hours
"Chainalysis has approached the COVID-19 pandemic with flexibility and grace from the start and as school resumes, we've doubled down on that approach. This translates to flexible (or inverted) working hours for parents with the full support of our leadership team and CEO as well as an environment that welcomes impromptu cameos on Zoom from children, pets, and spouses. We have a #parentlife Slack channel that gives parents an outlet to discuss back-to-school options, day to day challenges, and the inevitable novel and often humorous situations we're finding ourselves in. While we don't know what the finale of this journey looks like, we're committed to iterating and adjusting as much as possible for our team and their families."
Primer is normalizing the challenges of parenthood
"We are supporting parents by giving them explicit permission to manage their time including homeschooling during the traditional workday. At our last all-hands, our whole executive team communicated that as long as people get their work done, they are free to do it however works best for them and to take the time they need to support their kids. Second, we created a 'guide to working with parents' and circulated it around the company. This helps non-parents empathize and understand the experience parents are going through.
The main goal is to normalize what's happening so people can live their lives openly without judgment, and to make sure parents feel they can speak up about their situation."
Learn more about Primer here.
ServiceNow is investing in a culture of belonging for parents
"ServiceNow continues to pay attention to our employees' well-being by helping them avoid burnout and being mindful of external factors. We've added a stipend for employees around the world to set up their home offices, and a Perk Allowance program so employees can purchase products or services, including childcare and homeschool resources (textbooks, education classes & supplies), as well as personal technology equipment and packages to support at-home learning for kids. Even ServiceNow's Workplace Services teams around the world got creative, coming up with ways to keep employees connected with social activities in a virtual environment. From regular fitness classes to family game nights, to virtual happy hours and even cooking classes, the employee activities served as reminders of our culture of belonging, even when people couldn't be physically together."
Learn more about ServiceNow here.
Kensho is getting creative (hello, Uber Eats family dinners and No Meeting Thursdays)
"Kensho has always fully supported working parents and this unprecedented time is no exception. It's not enough to say we have a 'flex schedule'; you have to walk the talk, and our leadership team does just that. Our CEO, Adam Broun, recently mentioned in a company-wide meeting that schools will be back in session, which may impact parents' schedules, and we will work with them to meet their needs. In addition to flexible schedules, we offer a monthly stipend for Uber Eats for families to enjoy a meal together, as well as 'No Meeting Thursdays,' which helps parents plan their schedules. We also have the Kensho Parents Slack channel where parents support each other by sharing current news articles, words of encouragement, ideas and of course bragging about and sharing pictures of our beautiful children. And on the days when flexible schedules and friendly advice isn't enough, we have our unlimited vacation policy to use to recharge. The Kensho Family extends far beyond the walls of our offices and we truly care about each individual Kenshin."
New Relic is expanding access to childcare
"To better support Relics as we continue during shelter-in-place, we have added a few more items to our support options for caregivers. New Relic is committed to supporting our employees during this challenging time and helping to bring some relief to our employees and their families. Expanded options include:
- Access to Care.com memberships to help employees find trusted caregivers
- Subsidized backup care services for emergency backup needs
- Access to Virtual Babysitter Club, a network of professional performers who immerse children in remote social entertainment for an hour at a time that allows parents to catch a break or get some focus time and can be booked with <24 hours' notice. Activities include adventure games, dance parties, trivia, interactive magic, and puppet shows
- Options to go part-time or take leaves of absence"
Learn more about New Relic here.
Quip is celebrating employees' children
"Parents have a lot on their plates, from juggling work, caring for their families, and balancing busy schedules. Here are some resources available to support parents as children resume schooling:
- "Kiddos" Chat Room: Parents can share their experiences, ask questions, and support each other as we navigate what the new school year looks like.
- B-Well Together Pandemic Parenting series: B-Well Together is a daily 30-minute webinar series, and Friday mornings are dedicated to the topic of parenting during this pandemic
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP) resources include free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and work-life services.
- COVID-19 Global Back-up Child Care: Services include reimbursement for child care and educational support, such as tutoring and learning pods.
- And because we can always use a little more cheer, we recently hosted a Kiddos Live Show where our kiddos showcased their many talents."
Autodesk is piloting a new child care leave program
"Many Autodeskers around the world continue to work from home to stay safe with their loved ones. While working from home has its perks, it also comes with challenges for parents who are balancing both work and parenting. To support our working parents, Autodesk launched the Remote Learning Child Care Leave program in anticipation of the new school year. The program is designed to give parents the flexibility and support to spend time during the work week to focus on their child's needs. Check out @AutodeskLife to see the #AutodeskParents campaign and hear from our Autodeskers on #parentWFHtips."
Learn more about Autodesk here.
Netskope is letting parents choose what's right for them
"Here at Netskope, we understand the challenges that come with managing a workload and children's educational needs. To support health, safety, and our working parents, our offices will remain closed throughout 2020 to provide our employees with the flexibility to be home with their children. We trust that employees will manage their schedules as needed, and invite them to be creative. Some start their day later so they can use the morning to focus on school. Others are working four 10-hour days per week so they can spend a weekday focusing on the educational needs of their children. We encourage our employees to find out what works best for each of them and continue the open dialogue with their management teams. Our employees are the key to the success of our business, and with support and togetherness, we will get through this difficult time."
Learn more about Netskope here.
uShip is leaning into flexible work
"We're supporting our parents by allowing as much flexibility as possible. uShip is not requiring anyone return full time back to the office. We've actually thrived as a remote workforce, and it's really made us challenge the way we view effectiveness of in person collaboration. We're being supportive and flexible with schedules as well, asking parents to block off time when they know they'll be away for an extended period to help with personal matters and schoolwork. We've also found a way to continue providing home-cooked family meals every Friday from our chefs for touchless pick up at our office. There's also a uShip Slack channel dedicated to parents where we can share tips and provide encouragement to each other."
Raytheon Intelligence & Space is helping parents work around school schedules
"Raytheon Intelligence & Space's ultimate success as a company is dependent upon our most important asset — our people. Over the past six months our leaders have been working with their teams to create a culture that allows our workforce to thrive as we continue to adjust to our new work environment. We have listened to employee feedback around childcare challenges and particularly school schedules. Many of our employees are parents now juggling hybrid and remote schooling while simultaneously working to meet our customer commitments. While there is no simple solution, we are thinking creatively to identify solutions that meet the needs of both the business and of our employees. For example, we have made several tools available including flexible work arrangements, Bright Horizons Back-Up Care and Family Support, and our Employee Assistance Program. We are focused on helping our employees navigate these unique and uncertain times."
Learn more about Raytheon Intelligence & Space here.