75% of parents say flexibility is a way their company can better support them

The uncertainty of back-to-school plans weighs heavily on work-from-home parents who rely on employers to accommodate evolving schedules of the new normal.

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Image: iStock/grinvalds

The daily news feed has tried to keep parents updated on the fall 2020 status of schools, from kindergarten to university, as news reports and local edicts flip-flop: Will they or won't they? Open, that is. School administrators continue to struggle with the pros and cons of going fully remote, hybrid, or in person. 

Parents remain uneasy, yet devoted to employers' needs, as; they juggle proctoring distance-learning and fulfilling work responsibilities (while doing that job well, respondents stressed), it was revealed Monster's latest employment index. 

Parents hope for employer empathy

Monster polled 2,048 US parents in mid-August and found that parents look to their employers "for a helping hand." While 73% feel their company was supporting them during back-to-school schedules and activities, that meant that 27% disagreed and felt unsupported. 

Three-quarters of all polled said they see work schedule flexibility as a way their company could be better supporting them—whether that means working from home or working in the office or shifting work schedules. 

And a majority of parents (64%) are burdened with fear of the as-yet resolved COVID-19 crisis, as well as the stress and anxiety about sending their children back to school. Of that two-thirds, 76% said the primary reason they feel these pressures so deeply is because they are convinced that their children have a higher chance of being exposed to the coronavirus in an on-ground school.

In person or fully remote, few parents have the luxury of shirking responsibilities. Even if a family is covered for childcare (beyond parents), the responsibilities for in-person classes still involves transportation back and forth, athletic and social school activities, homework to be completed for the following morning, as well as providing meals. 

Other initiatives that would be considered "support" by employees are "childcare resources (8.5%)," and "tutoring and learning resources (6.3%)." 

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Flexibility and good faith

Parents who may be most affected by the new normal are those whose offices have opened up, but whose younger-than-12 children are studying virtually. And this, among many other scenarios, requires flexibility. Does it mean hiring tutors or babysitters to monitor a child's progress? Can parents fit this into their budget?

As indicated earlier, even if they continue to work remotely, parents worry their children will either contract COVID-19, or be dangerously exposed in an on-ground classroom. How will they be able to tell if their child is asymptomatic, but still contagious? How can they protect the rest of their family? The stress triggers are rising, because of the unknown.

Another Monster poll, taken at the end of last month surveyed 2,607 US respondents and the resounding conclusion is that parents are "desperate for work-schedule flexibility," they want to ensure they will be available to their children, as well as prove to their employer that they can still deliver, and do it well. 

Flexibility is so critical that 85% of employed respondents admitted to currently continuing to search for work, in the hopes a new position will offer more flexibility than their current situation (47%) as well as pay increases (44%).  Other reasons for keeping an eye out for availability were, said respondents, "my industry is facing layoffs (21%)," "the looming recession (12.1%)," and "lack of time (12.1%).

Nearly two-thirds (60%) of respondents reported they were unemployed, and claimed it was primarily due to staff decreases within their company, in light of COVID-19 shutdowns.

Apparently one epiphany many respondents had was to rethink their chosen career, with an overwhelming majority (89%) of those who are unemployed "are willing to consider a job outside of their current industry."

Trends show spikes and increases

Another element of the country trying to figure out the conundrum of back to school is the need for teachers and school administrators. Monster data from the week of Aug 9-15 showed that education job searches spiked and that labor and skilled jobs are steadily increasing. 

Since April, searches for "education" and "teacher" have been increasing, with spikes in mid-June and again, in the past two weeks. Searches for "tutors" saw an uptick throughout July as parents worried about keeping up with what might be an additional semester of remote learning. 

Overall,  jobs in education are higher in the past three weeks than the previous three weeks, with increases in teaching assistants (TAs) and preschool teachers driving most of the momentum. 

Throughout August, instructional designers and technologists searches were sustained. 

We may still be under the cloud of COVID-19, but businesses and staff (employed or soon-to-be employed) are on an upswing, in an attempt to break through efforts to rebuild the economy. Week-over-week increases in job postings include heavy labor and skilled jobs in production and transportation; both had increases in the last two weeks.

Big increases within production occupations include:

  • Team assemblers
  • Machinists
  • Welders
  • Cutters
  • Fitters

In-demand transportation jobs are up for light truck or delivery services drivers, industrial truck and tractor operators, laborers and freight,  hand stock and material movers.

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By N.F. Mendoza

N.F. Mendoza is a writer at TechRepublic and based in Los Angeles. She has a BA in Broadcast Journalism and Cinema Critical Studies and a Master's of Professional Writing, both from USC. Nadine has more than 20 years experience as a journalist coveri...