By Ashley K. Taylor, D.B.A.
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University
One of the unique challenges that has arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic is the safest way for K-12 schools to maintain educational continuity. Currently, states across the country are trying to figure out if, when, and how K-12 schools will open in the fall.
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As these plans are being developed, parents across the country await the announcements with bated breath. While parents, children and families are directly affected by school reopening decisions, employers will be indirectly impacted as well.
For instance, some employees will no longer be able to work, and other employees will require modified schedules. Still others will make the decision to keep working as normal while their school-aged children must fend for themselves.
So how can organizational leaders support their employees, especially those who are parents of K-12 students and coping with the challenges of COVID-19?
Supporting Employees during COVID-19
There are many ways organizations can show their support for employees during these challenging times. For example, employers can:
1. Review current leave, remote work and work hours policies. Organizations must still perform well during these unprecedented times, so standard leave policies may no longer be most beneficial for both employer and employee.
Analyze the policies. Discover new ways to enhance productivity while making room for employees to do their most important job: taking care of their families.
2. Recognize that productivity is often more important to an organization’s bottom line than hours worked. Consider enhanced flexibility options that allows employees the necessary space to complete required tasks without unnecessary time constraints.
Identify tasks that can be performed asynchronously. Assign project deadlines like you normally do, but allow employees to self-manage the time they need to complete assignments.
3. Think outside the box. Due to the current pandemic, there are several new challenges that have been set before employers and employees, but there are also several new opportunities as well. Summon the creative minds within the organization to brainstorm and develop unique ways to support employees and families during COVID-19.
Be innovative. Try something that has never been tried before. If it fails, at least a valuable lesson will have been learned from the experience.
It looks like COVID-19 is going to be with us for some time. Some states have reopened only to close again. When one state’s rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases goes down, it seems that another state’s rate of cases skyrockets.
Organizational leaders must develop long-term solutions to address what is going to be a long-term situation. As we inch closer to the fall and all that it brings — a new school year and cold and flu season — it is imperative for plans to be set in place to mitigate potential issues. That will be mutually beneficial for employers and employees.
About the Author
Dr. Ashley Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the School of Business at American Public University. She has a D.B.A. from Northcentral University and a M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix. She has been a full-time faculty member at American Public University since 2008 and has spent over 14 years in higher education administration and management.
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