According to the Pew Research Center, the United States has the world’s highest number of children living in single-parent households. Other sources say that currently, 13.6 million single parents are living in the U.S. It’s a big number and one that suggests that businesses will more likely find themselves employing single parents.
Now more than ever, business owners and managers need to do all that they can to support employees that may be having a harder time than others, especially since we’re still in the middle o navigating a pandemic. If your business or company has single-parent employees, here are some practical ways you can extend help and support, and how to empower them to climb the ladder:
Give them access to reliable childcare support
One of the biggest challenges single parents have to face is childcare, especially if their co-parent is out of the picture, and if they have no family members they can trust to keep their child safe. Not having a place or person that can care for their kid when they have to work can negatively impact not just their attendance, but their overall productivity and output as well.
Here are some practical ways your company can provide childcare support to your single-parent employees:
- Set up an on-site childcare facility, especially if there is someone in your team who has a background in education or babysitting. It doesn’t have to be a free service, but you can provide a discount to your employees to help lighten their financial burden.
- Consider paying for daycare fees, at least until your employee is financially able to pay for it themselves.
At the end of the day, your single-parent employee’s priority will be their kids, and rightly so. Helping them with this biggest area of their lives will also help them focus on their second priority, which is providing for their child.
Help them become financially literate
If the single-parent employee is still on the younger side, perhaps an older Gen Z or a Millennial, then chances are they are still trying to pay off student loans or trying to get out of debt. Perhaps some of them are on the verge of being evicted from their homes. If this is their immediate concern, here are some ways you can help them get out of this difficult financial situation:
- Give them access to legal assistance, depending on their current problem. If they are unable to pay for their monthly rent, consider enlisting the help of an eviction attorney who can help them identify their options. A legal professional can help them talk to collectors, negotiate a new payment scheme that is more realistic and doable, and come up with a concrete plan to get out of debilitating debt. Think of it as an investment in their potential and their future.
- Financial literacy is a life skill that not everyone has because our education system does not necessarily provide students with access to this basic survival skill. Consider holding a financial literacy class not just for your single-parent employees, but for your entire team. Even business owners, board directors, and managers can benefit greatly from this.
If we truly want to help, we want to ensure that they have the tools they need not just to survive for today, but to thrive for the rest of their lives. Helping boost their financial literacy is a big part of that strategy.
Give them flexibility
It’s not surprising that single parents are generally less healthy than their partnered counterparts. Their quality of life is significantly lower, and they are more at risk for developing mental health issues. And this shouldn’t surprise us—single parents are quite literally doing the work of two people.
Bosses and managers can help single parents find a healthy rhythm that works for them by doing the following:
- Allow them to have a flexible schedule, especially if it’s not going to affect the quality and volume of their output. This will help them adjust according to their child’s school schedule, and this is especially helpful since kids’ schedules change every school year.
- Enforce their time off. If they have a propensity for working even during their days off, call them out on it to ensure that they are recharging and resting on those days.
Raising a child alone is already hard enough, but when we add a pandemic into the mix, it almost feels impossible. Give your single-parent employees a fighting chance by helping them in practical and concrete ways, at least until they find their footing. It’s a way of reminding them they are not truly alone in the world.