Some 48 million families in the US have one or more working parents. For many of these working families, their day begins with childcare drop-off before they head off to work. No matter the age of the child, managing the morning push to get everyone out the door on time can feel like a job all on its own. Balancing the everyday duties of parenting with a demanding career is challenging and many working parents can feel stressed, tired, and short on time with their children, friends, partners and to pursue their own interests. They often find themselves trying to squeeze quality time with their children into a few hours after work while chores, homework, and extracurriculars demand attention from both parents and children. Ridden with guilt, parents may beat themselves up over the lack of time they dedicate to their kids.
In a recent study, 25% of working parents were found to experience burnout.
The pandemic has exacerbated these pressures on working parents. In a recent study that looked at the effects of the pandemic, over half of working parents said they feel guilty working because they are not able to attend to their caregiving responsibilities, and 43% said they feel guilty when they are caregiving because they cannot attend to their work tasks. For parents, this no-win situation can leave them feeling helpless and at a loss of how to dig themselves out of the situation. During the pandemic parents reported feeling “in crisis” or having concerns about their mental health at nearly three times the rate of other workers.
Parenthood also comes at a high cost beginning with maternal healthcare fees during pregnancy. Following birth, most working mothers take time off to care for their young infant although many return quickly due to financial pressures, with a quarter returning within 2 months of giving birth. Up until a few years ago, few women received any compensation during this time with a mere 12 percent of women accessing paid maternity leave in the private sector. If a woman decides to return to work, parents are faced with the cost of childcare which can be as high as $10,000 a year for one child. Costs shift as children grow older including the cost of school and college.
“The cost of raising a child in 2022 is estimated to be around $272,049 not including the cost of college.”
Family responsibilities can really take a hit on job satisfaction and career progression once children come along. Career progression, especially among working mothers can be stymied when they don’t have the time to take on extra responsibilities, work long hours, complete study/training or travel for work. When job satisfaction is low, working parents may seek other opportunities that better accommodate family life, or worse still leave their professional careers altogether.
“64% of working parents intend to leave their jobs to better accommodate their dual role as a working parent.”
The loss of workers comes at a high cost to companies. According to Gallup, the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. To avoid losing working parents to competitors, employers can offer family-friendly work arrangements. These can include flexible work arrangements, financial benefits that address costs associated with having children, and extending health benefits to include a wider range of family health services such as fertility benefits and family building benefits. These types of benefits support employees across all life stages in balancing work and family responsibilities and are sought after by many. In a recent poll, 40% prefer family-related assistance and perks.
Flexible working arrangements
Working parents identify inflexible working arrangements as a significant barrier to achieving a balanced work and family life. Flexible work arrangements can include a range of policies, but most commonly are remote work, compressed work hours or part-time hours that work around school hours. These flexible work arrangements can really bring into balance work and caring for children. The uptick in demand for flexible work arrangements during the pandemic forced many employers to rethink their work arrangements. Many employees want to continue to work from home, especially working parents. FlexJobs found that 61% of parents say they want to work remotely full-time, while 37% prefer a hybrid work arrangement.
Generous family benefits
Employees are one of the most important assets to a business. Many employers are waking up to the needs of their employees with parental responsibilities by offering more generous paid maternity and paternity leave programs and work from home. But some are going even further to accommodate and attract these families by providing an array of innovative and more generous family benefits including:
- Onsite and off-site childcare
- Family planning
- Online learning/tutoring
- College counseling
- Kids summer camps
- Help with planning vacation
These additional benefits can really make the difference between winning over a highly educated and skilled pool of workers or losing out to the competition. Employers and employees have a lot to gain by offering such perks. These gains can include:
- Attract and retain talent
- Higher productivity and increase economic gains
- Increased job satisfaction
- Improved morale and team cohesion
- Improved gender diversity
- Fewer sick days and work interruptions
- Happier home life and better future for children
A study found that companies that offered “special and unique” benefits like fertility programs or adoption support were twice as likely to retain parents, and have the potential to see 5.5 times more revenue growth.
Companies are also more likely to weather economic turndown. Great Places to Work studied employer workplace conditions between 2007 to 2009 to see what employee experiences could predict about a company’s success during economic downturns. Organizations that put their people first and were more inclusive were found to see an increase in profit during the Great Recession.
“Companies with consistently inclusive workplaces thrived before, during and after the Great Recession, earning a 4x annualized return.”
When working parents feel they are valued and their families are in good hands, they can put more effort into their work. This is a win-win situation for both employer and employee.
One benefit educated parents can appreciate is access to professional support for their child’s college journey. College counseling can give employers a leading edge in the battle for top talent by attracting employees who value education for their children. By offering unique, holistic, and technology-driven college counseling, financial support, and expert guidance, Empowerly can transform the college application process from a frustrating and time-consuming experience to one full of ease, confidence, and success.