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Working parents are still not OK. Here’s how companies can help.

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter, where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: how to support parents at work, the women supporting whistleblowers, and Glassdoor’s "Best Places to Work" for 2022.

—Amber Burton, reporter (email | twitter)

Parenting parents in tech

Parents are tired. And who can blame them? We’ve entered yet another year accompanied by spikes in COVID-19 cases. Classrooms are closing and children are entering online school again for weeks at a time, and it’s leaving some parents with the double duty of working and parenting. It’s a crisis, to say the least.

In response, some tech companies are stepping up their support for caregivers who are working with children at home. The offerings are vast, ranging from child care and online classes to virtual therapy.

One service that companies have embraced is Outschool, the online learning platform that achieved unicorn status last year after raising a $75 million series C. The ed-tech company offers live classes for children ages 3 to 18. Twitter, Alto Pharmacy and Quizlethave all partnered with Outschool to provide support for their employees with children. With a quirky and diverse set of offerings, parents can find everything from math to Minecraft classes depending on their goals. “The Science of Thoughts” has become particularly popular among children and parents alike, said Amir Nathoo, co-founder and head of Outschool.

The partnerships with employers are pretty straightforward: Companies provide a wallet or set aside money for parents to specifically use on Outschool classes.

Nathoo also said Outschool is currently seeing a jump in demand of more than 50% month-over-month. He attributes it to parents adjusting to the new semester alongside their children. Across the U.S., we’re seeing children sent home for remote learning due to COVID-19 cases, exposure and teacher absences. The trends Outschool is observing based off of when children are using the platform is revealing. More children have been active on the site during the day, suggesting that children are at home and parents are filling the gaps within their school days while they work.

  • “We've noticed shifts in the time frames that parents are using the platform. For example, during lockdowns and when schools have been closed for a reason, they'll sign up for classes during the regular school day. And then what happens is when schools reopen, we see a shift toward buying weekly classes during after-school time slots,” Nathoo said.
  • Nathoo has also noticed that much of the burden still falls on women in the household. “The reality is there's a massive gender gap right now in who is taking responsibility in the households for adjusting kids' learning,” he said.

The varying schedules from week-to-week have put a strain on many parents, causing stress and upping the likelihood of burnout. To combat this, more HR leaders have sought out mental health providers to offset unseen stressors. Brightline is one such company that has come on the scene to help both parents and children. The virtual care company started forming partnerships last year and has seen an influx in inbound requests from employers. Brightline has partnered with a total of 35 employers and five health plans over the past year to provide in-network care. Here's how it works for employers and employees:

  • Brightline offers three options: an app that provides basic virtual support, coaching and full-on therapy.
  • The goal is to help families facing everyday stressors and challenges related to the pandemic, while also offering coaching and support for parents of children with ADHD and/or who show signs of being on the autism spectrum. The surgeon general also recently warned that U.S. youth are facing a mental health crisis, an unseen issue that many employees are dealing with quietly at home.

Naomi Allen, the CEO and co-founder of Brightline, said employers have been attracted to their service for a mix of reasons: “high employee burnout, high risk of employee attrition, increasing claims costs because of the use of the emergency room — because when you don't get ahead of mental health needs they don't just go away, they get exacerbated,” she said. All of which lead to extra costs for employers.

In addition to providing services, some companies are simply providing the flexibility parents need at this time without question. Pinterest, for example, which has become known for its support for parents, allows its caregiving employees to take leave if needed.

  • “Employees can take four weeks of paid COVID-related leave for reasons including caring for children due to school or childcare closures. We also encourage impacted employees to work with their managers to create alternate work schedules during this time. People do their best work when they feel seen and supported in a workplace that’s inclusive and inspiring," Alice Vichaita, head of Global Benefits at Pinterest, said in a statement to Protocol.

The key to offering supportive benefits for parents is not just about funding, but also educating on how the benefits might be used, Nathoo said. As with any new benefit, there can be uncertainty at first. “Using levers such as employee resource groups to spread that knowledge, I would say, is critically important,” he said.

Events at Protocol

It now seems almost certain that antitrust action, privacy laws and more will influence the tech industry and will soon affect the most powerful companies. Our expert panel will discuss what lawmakers hope to achieve, how tech companies are already responding to possible regulation and what it might look like a few years from now. Speakers for our free, online event include Justin Brookman, Julie Brill, Samir Jain and Linda Moore, moderated by Protocol senior reporter Ben Brody on Jan. 26 at 10:30 a.m. PT/1:30 p.m. ET.

Register for the event.


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The women amplifying tech’s worst secrets

A two-person startup has become one of the most powerful forces for holding major companies accountable. My colleague Anna Kramer interviewed the two women behind the whistleblower support firm Lioness. Ariella Steinhorn and Amber Scorah founded the company that now has a word-of-mouth reputation for allowing people to share their stories about financial fraud, white-collar crimes, harassment and unethical or manipulative business practices. What makes the firm different from other whistleblower networks is its connections and paid partnerships with law firms. Law firms pay Lioness as a partner, and Lioness refers clients to their attorneys for help and pro bono legal advice.

Read the full story.

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From company all-hands to project updates, our distributed teams rely on video to get more done, together. But one thing is not working: our back-to-back-to-back video calls. Learn how to make video work for your team in 2022 – with our ebook.

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Today's tips & tools

What object creates unbridled glee in children and working professionals alike? The Pop It, a colorful toy with bubbles you can poke. Like its predecessor the fidget spinner, the Pop It went viral with the help of social media. Quite a few of us at Protocol have confessed to borrowing (let’s be honest, stealing) our younger family members' Pop Its. But you can also order your own to limit fidgeting and spark joy throughout the day.

— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email | twitter)

Glassdoor’s top places to work

Glassdoor released its 2022 list of "Best Places to Work" this week, and tech companies ruled the rankings. As the pandemic wears on, workers report that tech companies continue to excel when it comes to offering flexibility and positive employee experiences, Glassdoor’s senior economist Daniel Zhao told Protocol. Chip giant Nvidia topped the list, and a total of 40 tech companies ranked in the top 100 best places to work among large U.S. companies. This is up from 28 tech companies in 2021. Here’s a look at some of the top employee-rated tech companies and where they ranked.

  • NVIDIA (#1)
  • HubSpot (#2)
  • Box (#5)
  • Google (#7)
  • Salesforce (#10)
  • Five9 (#13)
  • Twilio (#14)
  • Adobe (#16)
  • Akamai (#17)
  • LinkedIn (#19)

Making moves

Indeed appointed Svenja Gudell as its chief economist. Gudell will lead the Indeed Hiring Lab, Indeed’s team of economists who provide insights about the global labor market. Gudell was formerly the chief economist at Zillow.

Online ordering platform Lunchbox appointed Chelsea Kingsbury as its head of People. Kingsbury was previously director of Culture and Engagement at the company.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

The head of HR is now responsible for grappling with a number of public health questions.

Northwest Arkansas is offering bitcoin and a bike to entice tech workers to move to the state.

The Verge now has a guide for all things WFH, because let’s face it: Two years into the pandemic, we’re still trying to figure it out.

The future of HR might be an app on your smartphone.

Um… apparently people are using the flexibility of working from home to go to brunch on Fridays.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Have a great day, see you Sunday.

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