If you are an Oklahoma resident, you are no doubt aware of the possibility that on April 2 many school districts will shut down as teachers, administrators, and staff walkout in protest of the lack of education funding in Oklahoma. Why is this an issue in an employer’s blog? Well, we can discuss the need for an educated workforce or the economic benefits of a well-regarded educational system, but right now there is a more immediate concern – your employees with school-aged children.
On April 2, it is likely your employees with school-aged children will have to make alternative arrangements for those children or be absent from work. This will undoubtedly be a significant stress on your employee (and, thus, on your company).
Regardless of your views on the merits of the walkout, you should consider ways in which you can assist your employees as they grapple with this situation. You should be thinking today about what next Monday will bring. Consider distributing information to your employees as to the various resources which are available to them. For example, the Tulsa Area United Way’s website has a resource guide to help parents find assistance during the walkout from child care to meals. If you are outside of Tulsa, spend a few minutes researching as most participating school districts have collected similar resources. Providing this information to your employees (sooner rather than later) can help alleviate their stress, allow them to make plans for next week, and allow your workplace to run more smoothly.
Otherwise, employees may wake up Monday with no plan for their school-aged children. This will lead to absences from work because “I can’t leave my child home alone.” This is not an employer being insensitive to the plight of the family. On the contrary, this is your opportunity to work now with your employees. Recognize the reality of your employees’ situation and provide whatever assistance you can. As there is no way to know whether the walkout will last one day or three weeks, the better you are able to assist your employees, the better your employees will be able to focus on their jobs.
Communication and planning on your part will be key. Hopefully, your planning will be for naught, but your failure to plan will lead to disruption in your business.