Should I ask my business for help if I can’t find a daycare?

Johnny C. Taylor Jr.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr., an expert in human resources, answers your questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest professional human resources society.

Questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.

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Question: My company has to return to work at the office in the fall. I have two children. One will start the first year and a second child is in kindergarten. During the pandemic, several daycares in the area have closed and I’m afraid I won’t be able to find a daycare in time to return to work. How do I get help from my business? – Gerry

Johnny C. Taylor Jr.: Are you one of the many who are scrambling to get child care services during the pandemic. While it doesn’t make things easier, being flexible in your research can improve your outlook.

Before seeking help from your business, be sure to do your due diligence. If you haven’t already, broaden your search to include daycares near work, home, and mid-range locations. Ask if the closed centers have a date of provisional reopening and if so, put yourself on their registration or waiting lists. Many parents are on multiple lists. Thus, when they find a child care provider, they are removed from placement on other lists. Some daycares allow parents to enroll their children at a later start date. Many schools offer before and after school programs, so you may also want to check with your children’s schools.

You can also find child care from family, friends and neighborhood discussion forums. If you have an employee assistance program at work, contact the program administrators for assistance. Often times, they will have a list of child care locations to help you with your search.

If you still find yourself unable to obtain child care, now is the time to discuss it with your manager. Let them know that you are actively looking for child care, but may need more time to get it. Your employer may allow you to continue working remotely while trying to get child care. You might also want to discuss other flexible plans that would allow you to take care of your children while continuing to work. This can include reduced hours or a partial week in the office and at home the rest of the week. Your employer may also be open to changing your work schedule so that you can arrive late for work and / or leave work early.

A survey of employers found that 86% plan to introduce more flexible working arrangements for employees with childcare issues, but it’s important to contact your employer to find a solution.

Making sure our children are well taken care of is our top priority as parents. Sometimes balancing that need with a career that allows us to do it is difficult. I hope you and your company can come to a mutual agreement, and I wish you the best in juggling work life and parenthood during this uncertain time.

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Q: I was hired in March by a company. I like the company as a whole, but more and more I find that my manager’s expectations differ greatly from the job description I applied for. And the volume of work also seems to be greater. Who do I contact to find a solution? Is it reasonable to request a transfer so early? – Melvin

Taylor: While it is certainly a difficult situation to go through, it is not uncommon these days. Fortunately, there are a few avenues for you to find a solution that works for you and your career.

Under normal circumstances, you would want to speak with your manager or an HR representative. Given the current economic climate and the fact that COVID-19 is still looming, there are more variables to consider before sitting down to talk. Many employers have had to move or add tasks to meet fluctuating demands. This could mean that your job description is outdated or that temporary responsibilities have been added. Typically, this can be reflected in a job description as “other assigned duties”.

Since you are new to the job, you are probably in some form of orientation period. Now is the perfect time to build a relationship with your manager to better understand the expectations of the job. If you’re having trouble meeting needs or understanding priorities, have a frank conversation with your manager. Let your manager know that you could use additional support or guidance to prioritize tasks.

If you find that your manager isn’t receptive to the discussion or don’t expect you to think you can get the support you’re looking for, HR would be your next option. They may be better qualified to help you navigate the situation or explain options for a potential transfer. HR will have a broader understanding of the talent and skill needs within your organization. They could be your best way to find a situation that better suits your needs and the business. HR can assess whether the job description needs to be updated or whether the organization needs to better explain the positions during the interview process.

I will say this: While a transfer may be your preferred outcome, the request could have unintended consequences. Some organizations may interpret your concerns as a bad work ethic or a lack of culture. Employees who are willing to go above and beyond are valued people. Thus, frame any transfer request around the search for an adjustment to allow better performance at work and a greater contribution to the company.

I encourage you to meet with your manager, and possibly HR, to find a mutual solution that benefits your organization and your career. Don’t ignore your feelings. Find a way to share them in a professional manner with your manager and see if you both can come up with a solution. Good luck.

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