Family friendly employers now key to a productive and happy workforce, says survey

Annette Rawstrone
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Nearly half (48 per cent) of working parents regard family life as a higher priority now than they did before the pandemic, according to new research.

Nearly four out of five (79 per cent) of respondents with children stated they had days where they had a childcare breakdown in a typical year.
Nearly four out of five (79 per cent) of respondents with children stated they had days where they had a childcare breakdown in a typical year.

The report by nursery group Bright Horizons also found a clear link between employers providing family-friendly services and employees’ ratings of productivity, engagement, loyalty and wellbeing.

The most valued support from an employer when balancing work and caring responsibilities were:

  • A positive approach to flexible working (90 per cent)
  • Access to emergency care (43 per cent)
  • Ensuring line managers are equipped to support work-family balance (42 per cent).

One respondent said, ‘My line manager, and his line manager in turn, have consistently supported me in balancing work with my family responsibilities.

‘They have created a culture in our team where people can be frank and open about their lives and the message is always “do what you need to do”. Without their attitude – and the back-up care provision – I think it probable that I would currently choose to be a stay at home parent.’

More than 1,300 employees were surveyed across 170 of Bright Horizons’ clients who use the company’s back-up care, workplace nurseries or workplace nursery partnerships (employer-facilitated places in nurseries near their company location).

After nearly a year of coping through the pandemic, when asked about the impact of having access to work and family services, more than three-quarters reported a positive contribution to both wellbeing and engagement while two-thirds noted an upward impact on productivity and on commitment to their employer. This was purely based on having the services available.

When respondents had actively made use of Bright Horizons’ back-up care, the experience was even more positive with more than eight in ten reporting it enhanced wellbeing and engagement and three-quarters noting a positive impact on productivity and on commitment to their employer.

COPING WITH CARE BREAKDOWNS
The research highlighted the need for parents and carers to have a back-up plan, even outside of a pandemic. Nearly four out of five (79 per cent) of respondents with children stated they had days where they had a childcare breakdown in a typical year.

While more than half (57 per cent) of employees who have childcare breakdowns say they are affected by five days or more in a typical year, with 24 per cent of affected employees saying they have ten or more days of care breakdown in a typical year.

Outside of the pandemic, the top three ways that employees without formal back-up care address care breakdowns are to use:

  • paid/annual leave (72 per cent) – in many case losing at least five working days in a year
  • work in an agile way (48 per cent)
  • use the support of family/friends (44 per cent).

All this can affect both wellbeing and productivity for employees.

STEPS TO HYBRID WORKING
Jennifer Liston-Smith, head of thought leadership at Bright Horizons, said, ‘The closures of schools and care settings demonstrated clearly that care is essential infrastructure for many people and businesses. Breakdown in this care, whether childcare or eldercare, can leave people scrambling for cover and have a negative impact on their wellbeing and productivity.

‘In times like these, it’s vital to share best practice and experience for the way forward. Over half of the attendees at our recent online event told us how their companies are currently consulting with their employees and deciding about next steps to take on hybrid working.

‘Organisations and leaders who have done well in taking a flexible approach to the recent trying times, backed up by practical support, have boosted employee loyalty and engagement for the longer term.’

Earlier this month Bright Horizons launched its month-long health and well-being challenge.

 

 

 

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