Employees and business leaders alike have become pretty clued up to the necessity of a solid work-life balance – thanks in part to a global pandemic showing us the stark reality of a world where home and work boundaries are firmly out of whack.
Now that the world has reopened and the separation is somewhat restored, people are having to adjust yet again to new ways of splitting between home life and work life.
For working parents especially, striking the right work-life balance isn’t always easy. And when you don’t have access to affordable, reliable childcare, it’s near impossible.
Childcare is what makes work-life balance attainable for parents
We’re all savvy enough to know that one of the biggest draws of striking the right work-life balance is a greater sense of wellbeing.
Being able to fully devote ourselves to work in the moment and having permission to switch off for personal reasons without guilt or shame is critical for our mental health. And in the case of working parents, not having childcare support from employers can have a significant impact on emotional wellbeing and productivity.
It’s why the findings of Bubble’s latest ROI report on family support are so concerning.
Without childcare, the majority of parents (four out of five) admit to working beyond their contracted hours – often long into the evenings, and throughout the weekend.
Without adequate, affordable and accessible childcare, the traditional 9-5 workday conflicts catastrophically with children’s schedules – leaving parents playing catch-up during what ought to be their downtime, feeling guilty about being distracted during working hours, and feeling even guiltier about focusing on work when they want to be spending quality time with their kids.
What you’re left with is a worker and a parent who’s unable to fully devote themselves to either role; sending their wellbeing into freefall.
Improving work-life balance for parents benefits everyone
Subsidising and making childcare more accessible as an employer increases the availability of parents during core business hours – benefitting team productivity and wellbeing in equal measure.
But it’s not just working parents who stand to gain from a more inclusive set of employee benefits and flexible attitude to work.
As our ROI report highlights: “Pro-family workplace policies stand to benefit working parents and child-free workers alike. The reality of the matter is that flexible working stigma, chronic overtime, and burnout are a threat to the job satisfaction and performance of every employee.”
Nobody – parent or otherwise – wants to feel like the only way to guarantee professional success is through perpetual, never-ending, selfless graft. Our working lives have to be in balance with our lives outside of work; otherwise, what are any of us actually working for?
When your people are burnt out, overworked, and lacking in downtime or worrying about not spending enough quality time with their kids, you’re not going to get the best out of them. And the worry is real: according to a survey by PGL, the pandemic led three in five working parents to realise they weren’t spending enough time with their children – with the overwhelming majority making changes to their work life post-lockdown.
Are your benefits good enough to guard against attrition?
Employees have seriously re-evaluated their priorities since the pandemic. People are tired of not seeing their families; they’re tired of worrying about childcare; they’re tired of not having enough time to take care of themselves; they’re tired of being tired.
And it’s the forward-thinking employers that are seizing this collective change of consciousness as the golden opportunity it is: a chance to prove that your people matter, and demonstrate that you’re not too set in your ways to accommodate their changing needs.
Family-focused benefits are more important – and in greater demand – than ever before. More and more businesses are adopting at-home or hybrid working, and recognising that in order to make these new arrangements work, employees with children can’t be harangued by their kids all day.
And as much as their children might be the most important thing in any parent’s life, their demands are never-ending – which is why regular, reliable and emergency childcare is such a game-changer of an employee benefit.
In fact, according to Deloitte, 1 in 4 women rank childcare as the number one benefit that employers can offer to promote gender equality and support women staying in the workforce. As it turns out, family-focused benefits are helping to create a more equal playing field at home and across the workforce, too.