Could your staff be suffering with back to school stress?

It’s that time of year again and for much of your workforce the start of a new academic year can feel like more of a New Year than January.

In this article we wanted to consider the impact that the beginning of a new school year in the UK might be having on your workforce. If you’re a hiring or line manager not affected by the start of term, your staff who are impacted will respect you for showcasing empathy towards the stress that it might be creating for them.

Let’s consider the parents or carers of primary school starters….

It’s safe to say that teachers aren’t too bothered about the impact that starting primary school has on working parents. Quite rightly, it’s their job to focus on the children and they mitigate the impact of a huge change on routine for youngsters with a range of initiatives such as phased starts, induction days and parent and child settling in sessions.

And for lots of your staff, many of whom have been working with children happily settled full time in nursery, this shift will be causing LOTs of stress.

They will be torn between wanting to be around as much as possible to support their school starters to make friends and find their feet academically, whilst juggling the demands of sticking to their hours and managing their workload at a time of year when workload can be higher as clients and colleagues return from holidays.

And of course it’s never too long at the start of term before the usual bugs, coughs and colds start doing the rounds which can only further impact the burden of responsibility on the shoulders of working parents.

There will be guilt and there will potentially be feelings of being neither a great parent nor a great employee!

And the parents or carers of secondary school starters might be struggling too….

New routines for getting to and from school which might include a greater sense of responsibility and risk. It’s likely that your staff might be more aware of their phones than normal as they monitor how their children are doing with their new routines.

And let’s not forget the parents or carers of those students entering a year of exams or even moving away from home to start their higher education.

So what can you do to make life easier for the parents and carers who work at your firm this September?

Flexibility is paramount and if you’re not able to operate a flexible working policy all year round then at least try and bring in a temporary relaxation of core hours during this period of acclimatisation for your workforce.

In 2022 professional sectors have all benefited from offering their staff a greater level of trust and stepping away from a system of micro management. Given the opportunity, many working parents tend to work harder (taking work home with them or really doubling down when they are in the office) to compensate for special arrangements that their employers are able to allow them.

Breadwinning and caregiving are usually roles that are very closely linked so if you support your staff to be one, they will usually end up being better at both. And instances of enhanced levels of trust being abused are few and far between but when they do occur you can manage them assertively safe in the knowledge that your firm did its best to help.

In addition to offering your workforce the option to work flexibility, an awareness of the pressures they may be under will really make a difference. Make sure that your line managers are trained in active listening and understand that asking simple leading questions that give your workers the opportunity to open up about feelings of guilt about work and family life can make a really big difference.

And don’t forget that this time of year often brings a flurry of new accountants returning to the workforce after a break to focus on their family. With the support of  a great recruiter like us you can benefit from finding some seriously talented accountants keen to work with a firm that offers them the support they need.

There’s a lot of spokes to the wheel of being a great employer and we’re always here to offer you practical solutions that can make a big difference to how you attract and retain the best talent that the recruitment market has to offer. To benefit from our expertise, reach out today for a no obligation call. We’d be delighted to hear from you.

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