It’s the end of August, and many HR parents are dealing with the back-to-school blues.
Not your blues. You’ve got your life on lockdown, and your kids have been ready for class since July.
Instead, you’re dealing with colleagues and associates who act as if back-to-school is a new thing every year and cannot get their acts together.
Matt in IT cannot follow his wife’s directions and pack a decent lunch for the kids. Elaine has five kids but seems surprised that her direct reports with kids are struggling to make it to work on time. Susie in procurement is new to the carpool thing, and she’s going to lose her shit before Labor Day.
Every. Single. Year.
Meanwhile, you work in HR. The team dynamics in your household aren’t always perfect, but you’ve been preparing for back-to-school your entire life. Your kids arrive at school on time. You didn’t blow your pencils-and-erasers budget. There’s minimal conflict because you’re paying attention to details and have managed expectations.
The way HR approaches back-to-school is less like a landmine and more like a ballet. We make lists. We cross off to-do items. And, if we suck at all this stuff, we chose a life partner who’s got this thing down cold.
But, for a second, put yourselves in the shoes of your colleagues. Change is hard — even the dumbest, most routine change — and a mere deviation to a personal routine can have a wide-ranging and catastrophic impact on daily schedules and moods.
So maybe the best way for HR to approach back-to-school is with a little sympathy and a lot of support. Instead of spreading around Forbes articles on how to be happy, you can remind your workers of childcare benefits and flex time policies. And if you don’t have a culture that makes it easy for one-parent and two-parent households to tackle back-to-school with the same level of gusto, maybe work on changing that.
Your back-to-school game is on point. Make it easy for other parents to feel the same way.
Laurie Ruettimann is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur based in Raleigh, NC. She’s working on her next book about fixing work due out in 2020.