The 2018 Modern Families Index, published by charity Working Families and childcare provider Bright Horizons has revealed that working parents are being pushed to ‘breaking point’ in the workplace, with many feeling pressurised to work more than their contracted hours. Because of the impact that their employment has on their home life, 10% had refused a new job, and 11% had turned down the opportunity of promotion.
It’s clear that there’s a big problem, impacting individuals and businesses alike. Business owners need to step up to create solutions that allow their employees to achieve a better balance.
Chief executive of Working Families, Sarah Jackson said, ‘We need human-sized jobs that allow parents to fulfill their labour market potential and give families back the time together they need to thrive. This should be central to the Government’s forthcoming review of its right to request flexible working legislation. Parents are responding to the pressures on them by deliberately stalling and downshifting their careers. With more than 11 million working parents in the UK, our economy can ill afford this ‘parenthood penalty’. Our findings should be a wake-up call for UK PLCs’.
Supporting your staff through the various life milestones is important, for a multitude of reasons. The business benefits are huge and parents must be given support for returning to work. The right measures will ensure that you retain your talent and continue to drive your business forward. Remember too that your employer brand is a powerful thing. It can be seriously damaged if you fail to address these types of issues.
What these measures look like in practice depends on the nature of your business. An off-the-shelf approach is unlikely to fulfill your needs. It may be the case that you need to reassess whether you’re making flexible working a genuine opportunity for your staff. Maybe you could benefit from creating a more robust support programme for employees returning to work after maternity or paternity leave.
The bottom line is that you simply can’t afford to bury your head in the sand. If you have parents in your workforce, it’s statistically likely that they’re struggling. A perfect solution may not exist. However you have a duty to take your responsibilities seriously and review the effectiveness of your current approach.
We provide HR health checks for small businesses. We can help pinpoint any potential issues, as well as provide practical advice on the steps you can take to better support working parents.