This fall, COVID-19 has brought new challenges for parents. For moms and dads working remotely it is difficult and often overwhelming to manage work while caring for children and juggling distance learning, in-person or hybrid school schedules. The events of 2020 underscore the importance of innovative programs, policies and benefits to support employees.
Listening to employees
“We enhanced benefits, shortened meeting times and held managers accountable to support their teams with flexible work hours—but we knew that wasn’t enough. We asked employees for their help to develop solutions that cater to the challenges that they are facing today,” said Gail Beauregard, vice president, Total Rewards, Boston Scientific. “Beginning in August, we held several focus groups to gather input from our working parents and other caregivers to understand what they are experiencing and brainstorm solutions that help address their dynamic needs. We learned that employees need continued flexibility to manage schedules. Some are feeling stressed and anxious themselves and others are worried for their children’s mental and emotional well-being.”
Holly Duvernay, senior manager, Corporate Benefits, on Beauregard’s team, has been working remotely while caring for two kids under the age of five. "When I heard employees say they were struggling, I could personally relate and I wanted to help make their lives easier. COVID-19 has pushed us to get creative and be more agile than we have been in the past,” said Duvernay.
Based on learnings from the focus groups, Boston Scientific expanded back-up childcare days and collaborated with benefits vendors to facilitate nanny shares and learning pods for colleagues who live in the same town. The company is also offering expert-hosted webinars for employees on timely topics, including how to cope with feelings of uncertainty during COVID-19 and how to be an ally to a loved one struggling with their mental health. Duvernay adds, “It’s important to have resources that parents, other caregivers and all employees can benefit from.”
Boston Scientific has complemented its U.S. Workflex policy by introducing “Flex Fridays,” which give many employees the flexibility to adjust their work hours Monday through Thursday so they can end their Friday workday at an earlier time.
Staying socially connected, even when apart
With so many children learning from home this year, families are also looking for ways to keep their kids connected socially. The Boston Scientific Community Engagement team answered with a unique program called BSC Buddies, which connects employees’ school-aged children across different geographies, cultures and languages. The initial pilot program matched 178 children from more than 20 countries with a virtual buddy.
Vivek Kolpe, vice president, IT, is a working dad who signed his 17-year-old-son up for the program. He says, “Being introduced to a buddy in another country was huge for my son during the pandemic. He and his buddy – a teenaged boy from Brazil – instantly hit it off. They’re enjoying their conversations so much that they’re now meeting every Sunday morning.” The creative program was so successful that it’s already been extended to additional employees and their children.
“Back-to-school in 2020 is like nothing we’ve seen before, making it even more important to listen to and support one another,” said Beauregard. “We have been able to count on our employees through everything that’s happened this year; and they can continue to count on us.”
Recently, Boston Scientific was named one of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies for the fourth consecutive year, and Best Companies for Dads in 2020. Go here to see more awards.