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What Are the 4 Most Common Back to School Stressors?

September 22, 2022

What-are-the-most-common-back-to-school-stressors-employees-face

September 22, 2022

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School is in session and that means it’s time for conferences, book fairs, and extracurricular activities. Whether you have a kiddo in grade school, or a spouse psyched about welcoming this year’s seniors, when the bell rings, students, faculty, and administrators alike call on their support systems to shift priorities. 

It’s now time to shift gears from the day-to-day hustle to weekend availability and an added emotional lift. Smart employers take notice of these shifts to help understand how to reinforce their teams and adjust the workload appropriately. Not only does the fall bring about new chances to learn, but it is also loaded with end of the year deadlines, festivities, and more.

1. Schedule Changes

The most common change employers will see with their staff are new schedules. This is a great time to review and implement flexible work. Parents may have to set strict boundaries around drop-off time for their kids and schedule their meetings while their children are out of the house during the day. Leaders should encourage open conversation in order to understand the needs of their team and promote collaboration and balance. That way, employees can still be able to get to their niece’s game in the afternoon without missing an important call, and projects stay on task. 

2.  Separation Anxiety

 Another change we see when school hops into session is separation anxiety, both in children and in caregivers. It’s expected that children could experience this feeling of anguish and fear, but it is less addressed for the adults in their lives. In reality, employees may feel just as much discomfort. When a child or loved one goes to school, it can even result in temporary illness, especially if it’s for the first time (ex: starting kindergarten or going off to college.) 

Separation anxiety can briefly lead to decreased productivity as the affected employee is distracted and unmotivated for an unpredictable amount of time. In this instance, the best route for an employer is to show support and offer any mental health resources available.

3. Increased Employee Absence

Going back into the classroom puts more people together more often, which leads to germs being passed around. These germs are then brought home and as a result, we see an employee absence increase. Offering benefit plans with a wide range of physicians will help your team get access to care when they need it. How can you support employees during back to school season? Open communication plays a key role between employee and leader, as work can shift when the household falls ill. 

4. Financial Pressure

Going back to school costs money, therefore the final most common stressor employees face when the wheels on the bus turn round is financial pressure. From supply lists a page long, to new clothes, tuition fees, before/after care costs and extracurricular dues, there is no shortage of payments your team could be calculating. For high school students, add in social events like homecomings and Prom, graduation parties, big birthday bashes and the costs continue to rise. The average American makes $58,260 a year, making it harder and harder to keep up with the cost of living, bills, and the needs of a growing family. As an employer, by providing a competitive total rewards package with regular bonus and compensation review, you can ensure you are keeping your compensation to market and giving your employees fair value for their contributions.

In today’s climate, employer support for team members is critical to keep retention high, especially during the back-to-school season. Just two years ago, children were pulled from their classrooms abruptly to navigate a pandemic and now, classes are cautiously full while teachers look for a new normal. Providing support and understanding to staff is important as they balance new schedules, work through emotions, try to stay healthy, and navigate financial adjustments to help their scholar reach their best potential. As an employer, providing mental health resources, initiating conversations around flexibility, and reviewing the compensation structure will help put the company’s best foot forward and promote a culture of balance.

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