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Modern Family – it’s not just a tv show

October 8, 2016

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Today’s modern family often consists of two working parents.  This growing demographic of employees makes up a large percentage of the workforce and can substantially impact the bottom lines of the organizations they work for.  A new study shows that many working parents are dissatisfied at work, and worse yet—their managers are oblivious.

Commissioned by Bright Horizons and conducted by Kelton Global, the second annual Modern Family Index surveyed U.S. managers and employees for insight into issues that working parents face and opinions about how they are managed.  The report shows a disparity between how working parents and managers feel their organizations treat working parents.

According to the survey, working parents are not satisfied in their jobs.  56% of working parents are not happy at their current job, 64% say their company is not attentive to their needs, and 62% say their employer does not care about them personally.  This is not good news for employers.  60% of married couples with young children have two working parents, 40% of primary family breadwinners are mothers, and 71% of women with children under 18 work.  They cannot be ignored.  In 2014, 90% of babies were born to Millennials, the workforce’s largest and most influential employee demographic.

What is perhaps more frightening than those statistics is that when the managers were surveyed 70% said they do have a culture that supports work/life balance, 72% said they support family responsibilities, and 73% claim supporting working-parent needs.  There is an obvious disconnect between how managers and employees are perceiving working parent attentiveness by employers. Consider these statistics from working parents:

  • 76% of working parents say the company does not have their best interests at heart
  • 62% say their employers do not care about them
  • 61% of working parents do not feel supported to attend a child’s event, such as a recital, baseball game, etc.
  • 81% of working moms and 73% of working dads think their employers would be unable to spot the signs of burnout

Dads are often ignored when organizations address the working parent, but they shouldn’t be.  52% of working dads are stressed about work/life balance, 48% are stressed about college savings, and more than a third (37%) worry about promotions.  This is compared to 60% of managers that think men are worried about promotions and 72% that say men worry about college savings.  Again, the numbers don’t match.  In this case, perception is not reality.

Working parents are prone to burnout. They are juggling family events along with work, and it is hard to put 100% into both.  The survey showed that among working fathers, 46% say they run out of steam due to lack of family time.  And consider this…16% say they would quit over the absence of work/life balance.

All of these concerns by working parents can cause serious issues for employers, including:

  • Burnout – 77% of working parents said they have become depressed, anxious, or sick as a result of burnout.  49% have claimed burnout due to working on vacation.
  • Turnover – More than half, 56%, of working parents are currently unhappy in their job.  Considering that turnover costs tend to start at an average of 20% of an employee’s salary, this concern must be addressed.
  • Recruitment – Working parents, especially Millennials, are very particular over what companies they are willing to work for.  62% said it is extremely important for a company to support working parents’ needs; 53% coined it critical.

Managers are left in the dark about these working parent concerns due to lack of communication.  Employees are reluctant to speak up, so managers need to ask.  Many of today’s workplaces have not caught up to the needs of 21st century families.  Understanding working parents should be a key initiative for organizational leadership.  Some key questions to ask yourself might be:  Are your managers supportive of their working parent employees?  Are other employees supportive?  Do you offer enough vacation time for working parents to enjoy family time several times a year?  Do you offer enough sick time to cover the parent and their child?  Do you offer telecommuting options?  Do you offer flexible hours?

Working parents are a key demographic in today’s workforce.  “The labor market is tightening.  Jobs are expected to outnumber workers by five million by 2020, and competition for top talent will continue to intensify,” says David Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons.  “The success of organizations will in large part lie in the hands of their employees who are working moms and dads. The bottom line is: employers who can earn the hearts and minds of working parents will be ahead of the curve.”

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