Data from the Census Bureau showed that in 2018, there are more than 35 million single-parent households, with the percentage of single moms outweigh the number of single fathers. For example, there were at least 10,000 single moms compared to approximately 2,000 single father in the United States only. According to the data, on behalf of their children, single parents would willingly make an effort to create a better life, given the fact that they are not just the major breadwinner – they are the only breadwinner in the family.
A further study published in NCBI also found that for single parents living alone, they commonly spend less time with their children due to long work hours in order to provide meals on the table or send their children to dream schools, implying that single parents can be loyal towards their job.
However, due to long work hours, singles are prone to get more work-related stress. According to a survey, single parents often get a lack of social support which results in depression and mental health issues. Juggling from work to kids care is already tough enough when two parents are contributing – and when you are the only parent in the house, your job will be much harder.
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Categorise communication – You can avoid less stress on single parents who constantly juggling from task to task by giving notes on each email or SMS you sent. For example, you can add ‘not urgent, urgent, FYI, for Monday’ note to let them know that they can do the tasks in an easy way.
Educate managers – Other than communication, managers should be given a clear understanding of the issues single parents face. This method can help both manager and single-parent employees have open communication when problems come up or work cannot be done as expected timeline.
Encourage employees to draw on existing benefits – Oftentimes, single working parents will work harder and longer hours in order to put a meal on the table or send their children to dream school, leading to less care to their family. It might also lead to burnout and performance decline. Therefore, as an HR leader who cares with your employees, you should send a signal to them that it is time to take a break or day-off from work and switch to family intensive time. You can also remind them that it is time to take vacation benefit, pay benefits, or child care benefit.
Provide better program – Commonly, organisations already provide a program to support working family such as childcare benefit, flexible work, or remote working option. Yet, the responsibility of a single mom or dad might differ from responsibility of parent with a partner. While spouses can change role of child responsibility, single parents have no one else to take up the slack when overloaded chores come to their way. Therefore, HR can make sure to improve and provide balanced programs that meet single parent’s needs. You can start by asking your single parents about stressors and develop better programs to help them.