Managers With Y2K Staff Advised to Address Child Care Worries

BOSTON, Mass. — Managers concerned about the stress on employees
with Y2K responsibilities over the holidays should pay special
attention to child care issues, a consultant says.

From now through the first quarter of next year, many workers in
high-technology companies, telecommunications firms and customer
service businesses have been asked to postpone vacations, put in
extra hours and work over the holidays.

With school out and some districts extending the holiday break
to upgrade their own systems, working parents will need extra day
care, activity plans for older children, and alternatives to family
meals at home. Managers sensitive to these issues can really help
ease the strain, according to Debbie Phillips, a group manager at
WFD, a work-life consulting company in Boston.

First off, having a conversation with affected employees about
their most pressing family events can lead to better scheduling,
she said. That way, parents who have to put in extra time can still
attend that special Christmas performance or Hanukkah
celebration.

Talking with employees about specific child care concerns and
offering to provide services on site or close to work can help
parents frazzled from trying to find short-term options. Offering
meals for family members at the office can at least mimic the
holiday ritual of sharing food and solve preparation problems,
Phillips pointed out.

Most important is that managers be aware of what Y2K-related
stresses their employees are facing. But the people caring for
children should also be clued in about this unusual event, Phillips
said. Her company has prepared information packets for day care
providers, which raise their awareness of the impact that Y2K
demands will place on families. The company?s Y2Kids program for
businesses offers suggestions for giving Y2K-troubleshooting
employees services like extended hours of child care, temporary
care at or near the work site and stress-management counseling.

What makes all of this particularly difficult is the fact that
no one really knows what businesses and employees will face in the
coming month.

‘It?s a little bit of a shell game,’ said Phillips. ‘Everybody?s
doing something a little bit differently.’ Not wanting to put extra
resources where they aren?t needed or offering useless services to
employees is an understandable business concern, she said.

So, ‘Lots of companies are taking the wait-and see’
attitude.

Contact: Debbie Phillips, group manager, Work Family
Directions (WFD), Boston, Mass., 617-264-3317; web site:
www.wfd.com.

Background: Fidelity Investments, Boston, Mass.,
617-563-7000. The company will offer child care stipends for
employees who must work over the New Year weekend, as well as
gift-wrapping counters and a concierge service during the December
holiday season. Ceridian Performance Partners, Minneapolis, Minn.,
612-853-8100, consulting service on work-life issues, including Y2K
stress managment.

COPYRIGHT 1998 THE American News Service,
289 Fox Farm Road, Brattleboro, VT 05301. For further information,
please call 1-800-654-NEWS or e-mail
info@americannews.com

UTNE
UTNE
In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.