Corporate America is facing a growing problem. More working parents are quitting and leaving their jobs to attend to their families, and employers are perhaps the ones to blame for the lackluster support and guidance.
At the height of the pandemic, followed by The Great Resignation, around 19 million full-time employees left their jobs as of April 2021 – and that number is continuously changing.
More and more of America’s working parents are seeking jobs and employers that provide them with childcare benefits, along with flexible schedules that allow them more freedom to attend to family matters, without imposing new challenges in the workplace.
Around one-third of America’s workforce, roughly 50 million workers, have children at home, and caring for them while holding down a full-time job has never been easy.
According to a KinderCare 2023 Parent Confidence Report, 18% of working parents in the workplace ranked childcare benefits as the second most important reason for them staying at their current employer.
Even more, the same report showed that 67% of employees believe that employers should offer financial assistance for the cost of childcare, a 5% increase from 2020.
Stressed over childcare, early childhood development, and their health and mental well-being, working parents are in crisis, and companies will need to respond if they’re looking to attract and retain top talent in a tight labor market.
The Growing Importance Of Flexible Work
Since the onset of the pandemic, which saw millions of employees shifting to remote work, employees have become accustomed to the increased autonomy they have in their everyday working life.
Remote work provided them with more freedom in their schedules and offered them a chance to partake in childcare duties and childhood development.
Additionally, remote work has increased employee happiness as well. A study showed that employees who were offered the opportunity to work remotely were around 20% happier in their current jobs than their in-office counterparts.
This is not only applicable to younger generations of workers who recently entered the workforce to be offered remote or hybrid working positions.
The same KinderCare report showed that 4 out of 10 parents report that they currently work from a hybrid work environment. On top of this, close to half of working parents said that flexible working schedules or hybrid roles are their ideal scenario, an increase of 5% from a year before.
Flexible working conditions not only improve employee satisfaction, but for working parents, it’s a way to have better control and work-life balance without having to make any sacrifices.
Childcare Benefits For Working Parents That Work
The cost of childcare has skyrocketed in recent years, and as of 2020, childcare costs for children younger than five years consumed 17% to 20% of the average American’s annual income. More shockingly, in some states, this figure was as high as 30%.
Addressing employee needs, and more so working parents’ needs will require businesses and companies to consider how they can support parents with childcare costs, or even more time to better plan for childcare needs.
The unseen mental load working parents are living has meant that a growing number of them are exiting the workforce in search of employers that provide them with the flexible support they strongly desire.
Families are more stressed than ever about their household income and financial situation. Stress about money and finances is at its highest since 2015, showing 65% of respondents citing they have day-to-day stress about their wealth according to research by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Weaving childcare benefits into workplace policies, whether it’s based on monetary contributions from the company or government, can potentially alleviate financial stress among working parents.
Allowing More Working Mothers Into Leadership Roles
Research shows that more women left the workforce than their male counterparts during the early months of the pandemic.
Working mothers suddenly found themselves at home, having to care for their families and taking on the majority of house care duties.
Now with the pandemic in the rearview, and lockdowns a thing of the past, women have been less likely to return to the workforce, pushing them to the back of the line and causing a knock-on backward effect on their careers.
Studies have shown that while the participation of women and women of color in leadership roles has increased over the last several years, their male counterparts still outnumber them when it comes to being promoted from entry-level to executive roles.
It’s found that for every 100 men that are promoted, around 87 women, and an even lower 82 women of color receive the same promotion.
Parental duties and responsibilities held by women during the height of the pandemic have left them falling behind in the race to narrow the gender inequality gap in the workplace.
Offering Guidance, Recognition, And Appreciation
In some companies, working parents often require assistance or guidance that can help them to find a balance between work and personal responsibilities.
Employers need to realize that younger employees, and those with children often seek mentorship from their superiors, and whether this may be related to their careers or not, it’s important for them to know that these options are available within the workplace.
This is where a sense of value, acceptance, and more importantly, recognition comes in, and the more employees feel that their employers or managers recognize them, the better overall morale and company loyalty they will have.
Different research shows that if employees feel recognized and appreciated, they tend to stay longer at their current employer.
These are simple things that make a bigger difference in how employers can attract, and retain the right talent for their companies. Even more so, creating a healthy, yet thriving work environment can help to boost team morale and engagement.
The Bottom Line
America’s working parents need assistance, and employers will need to be more innovative and inclusive in how they structure workplace policies that offer them flexibility, and childcare provisions and foster a healthy working environment.
There’s a lot of work still to be done that would see more working parents being included in the development process of these policies, but if companies want to minimize employee turn around, and attract the best possible talent – perhaps it’s time to think how working parents can positively influence your company and its employees.
Published First on ValueWalk. Read Here.
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