Summer is over, the schools are back, and for many working parents, the regular work routine has returned… Or has it?

Looking at the average school term dates and it’s rare to find a full week of school during the first few months – with endless inset days, staff training, school trips and the dreaded ‘snow day’. Asking a working parent to navigate the beginning of a new school year and you’ll therefore hear it’s a game of Jenga: with the regular routine and care arrangements swapping around, new events continuously appearing in the calendar and gaps where you previously had cover.

‘It’s very tough to balance…’ one parent sighed ‘…both mentally and physically’.

So how can we stop things from tumbling down?

For working parents, finding the solution (…and steady hand!) to the challenges of post-summer schedules can be a puzzle of favours – often complicated if you’ve already used your ‘good will’ gestures from family and friends during the six-week summer holidays. The alternative is very tricky too, with last-minute holidays and work absence, which can have an impact on productivity too.

More and more employees are now turning to their employer for help and back-up care is quickly becoming the go-to solution for business continuity.  Back-up provides a simple, short-term replacement care programme than enables people to work and support business continuity when regular care is not available – from back-up childcare to adult dependant care.

But to ensure our back-up care benefits suits our organisation, there’s a few key features to also consider when choosing a programme:

Will the back-up care programme support my organisation?

With an increase in flexible working and a wider employee base, back-up care can only support business continuity if it can reach employees.  To get people to work, back-up care must have a wide network to support employees where they live – whether it’s a city centre location or a quiet suburb – with the ability and flexibility to expand too.

Will it help my employees?

The sandwich generation is here to stay, with research highlighting that two in five working parents worry that caring for their own parents will be a reality in the next ten years. The programme must therefore support our employees’ different care requirements, from formal childcare and nannies, to in-home adult and elder care.

Employees want a network of trusted, trained and dedicated specialists who are able to provide the greatest level of care and support.

Is it easy to use?

Having a programme which is simple to use is very important – if people have to jump through hoops, they won’t use it.

Make sure the process for arranging care is easy, with a straight-forward registration form, a call-centre for employees with a live person who is able to make the reservation, a clear payment method and of course, 24/7 access.

Will the programme hold up in case of emergencies?

Enabling an employee to take an additional day’s holiday is one thing, but providing an extended period of leave or supporting an entire workforce in a patch of bad weather is another. Finding a back-up care programme with the ability to support such a crisis is a great sign of dependable and sustainable care.

Is there additional support available to maximise the benefit?

A great employee benefit should be able to show clear ROI, and the programme should be able to tell you how it’s performing – with ongoing and dependable account management. Make sure the programme provides quality assurance, a marketing and communications plan, and issue resolution (if required). Employee surveys and case studies of additional clients will tell you a lot!

At the heart of every organisation lies its people and ensuring business continuity during a challenging time begins with creating a system of prevention and recovery. Back-up care brings peace of mind for when those crises hit – enabling people to be there, no matter what.