Three out of ten working parents say they needed help paying for daycare, and almost four out of ten say their employers could help with living expenses, according to Bright Horizons’ annual Modern Families Index survey.
The poll of more than 3,000 working families reveals a growing disparity between the support that working parents require and the support that employers now offer, which has significantly declined over the previous 12 months.
Before accepting a promotion or a new job, a sizable majority—80% of women and 76% of men—indicate that they would need to carefully consider their childcare choices.
An average of 4 days of unplanned leave were taken by 67% of working parents in the previous year, demonstrating the widespread need for time off to handle emergency and last-minute care. It took five or more days off for more than three out of ten (32%) of individuals reporting this kind of absence.
The study indicates that moms who work experience the most impact; whereas 48% of working fathers state they shoulder the mental burden of parenting, nearly three-quarters (74%) of those asked admit they do.
Their mental health suffers as well as their personal and professional lives as a result of this strain. In the workplace, too, there is a gender gap: working moms feel less empowered than working fathers to grow in their careers when working flexibly (63% vs. 71%).
Bright Horizons cautions that a reduction in inclusive support may lead to burnout among working families, particularly among certain minority groups.
Bright Horizons head of thought leadership Jennifer Liston-Smith says: “The results of this year’s Modern Families Index are worrying to say the least. We would prefer to be reporting on progress – as we have in this research across the last decade and more – but something seems to be shifting in the wrong direction and the added pressures are clearly taking their toll.
“Employers continue to face significant retention and recruitment challenges; retaining working parents and carers has to be a key focus to alleviate these and supporting their mental health and ability to perform at work should be at the heart of employers’ strategy.
“With higher living costs and more companies urging employees back to the workplace, employers need to be moving forwards, not backwards in enabling employees to combine their career with family life. The imbalances in expectation and reality need to be addressed and employers need to be supporting employees from all angles.
“The ability to use annual leave for rest and recuperation as well as building family memories together is critical, and it’s concerning to see so many working parents and carers resorting to using up their annual leave at short notice to manage child and elder care arrangements.”