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Why Financial Service Institutions need to invest in childcare and family support.

The business case for childcare and family support is clear

The pandemic has finally forced us to see the people we work with as human. We’ve snooped inside their homes, we know the names of their kids and we’ve listened as they told us they were struggling.

Want to learn more? Why not book a demo.

So, what now?

Look around: your team need help and support; help and support that you can provide; help and support that could transform your business by increasing productivity, boosting retention and making your company an attractive place to work for a generation who demand more when it comes to workplace benefits and employee wellbeing.

The cataclysmic shift our working lives have been through since 2020 has spurred millions of people into reevaluating their lives and making big decisions. Real money worries are heightening stress levels and increasing overwhelm, pushing many talented professionals into seeking out new employment, with 44% of workers currently classed as job seekers (Willis Towers Watson’s 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey: The Great Resignation continues, as 44% of workers look for a new job: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/22/great-resignation-continues-as-44percent-of-workers-seek-a-new-job.html). Struggling with childcare is one of the top reasons cited by those who’ve jumped ship, along with low pay, lack of flexibility and feeling burned out.

So how can you make your business one that they want to join – and then stick around at?

We are all parents, children and siblings just as much as we are employees, managers and CEOs. As business leaders, we can do better. We have the power to dramatically transform company culture and impact millions of lives.

What your team want

Did you know that only 10% of FSI millennials plan to stay with their employer long term? (PWC, Millennials at Work: Reshaping the workplace in financial services: https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/financial-services/publications/assets/pwc-millenials-at-work.pdf). Or that 70% of professionals would not work at a leading company if they had bad workplace culture?(Linkedin, Workplace Culture Trends: The Key to Hiring (and Keeping) Top Talent in 2018: https://blog.linkedin.com/2018/june/26/workplace-culture-trends-the-key-to-hiring-and-keeping-top-talent).

We’ve all heard of the great resignation – now here’s what you can do about it.

Gone are the days when a subsidized gym membership and WFH days were considered major perks. And while private medical insurance and meditation apps are certainly nice-to-haves, providing them doesn’t mean you’ve ticked the “employee wellbeing” box. With 44% of employees preferring strong workplace benefits over ‘perks’ like food, game rooms and gyms (Linkedin, Workplace Culture Trends: The Key to Hiring (and Keeping) Top Talent in 2018: https://blog.linkedin.com/2018/june/26/workplace-culture-trends-the-key-to-hiring-and-keeping-top-talent), the reality is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for HR professionals to pull together a truly meaningful employee benefit package.

There is, perhaps, a sense that we have lost touch of what employees truly need. While it certainly is nice to have a glitzy summer party, are we really addressing the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities that are number one priority once we leave the office?

With Bubble for Work, we can help you solve one of these major issues; childcare.

Overwhelming research shows that lack of accessible childcare is the biggest work challenge for many employees today.

– 60% of working parents say they would stay in their current jobs if they had subsidised childcare (Kindercare Parent Confidence Survey 2019: https://www.kindercare.com/-/media/kindercare/documents/kindercare%20confidence%20report_b2b.pdf?la=en).

– 55% say they would take a pay cut to work for a business providing quality childcare.

– 81% of working parents say childcare benefits are a key factor when it comes to considering a role.

Currently, only 11% of employers offer any kind of childcare benefit, but this number is growing, and with it are the expectations of existing employees and potential hires. With 75% of millennials and Generation Z-ers intending to have children if they haven’t already, this isn’t a demand that’s going to go away.(Pregnant Then Screwed survey 2022: https://pregnantthenscrewed.com/one-in-four-parents-say-that-they-have-had-to-cut-down-on-heat-food-clothing-to-pay-for-childcare/).

… And why they need it

You might walk down the street and see appealing childcare options around you: the colourful nursery by the station advertising its vacancies, the childminder on her way to the playground with a rabble of happy kids. But this is by far from a reality.

During the course of the pandemic, an estimated 17% of traditional childcare providers in the UK permanently closed down due to insurmountable running costs. 1 in 5 parents of young children say these closures have affected them in the last 12 months.

41% of parents say there is a waiting list of 6 months or more at their local childcare provider.

Schools also often have long waiting lists for “wraparound care” (before and after school childcare) due to demand outstripping supply – leaving many parents juggling caring responsibilities, sometimes secretly, at either end of the school day and catching up late into the night.

Most working families are not entitled to any government childcare support until their child is over the age of three – and the cost of childcare has soared by more than £2000 a year over the past decade.

Thanks to stark facts like these, 72% of working parents describe themselves as stressed out by disruptions and uncertainty around childcare (Forbes, Working Parents Are In Crisis: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2022/06/05/working-parents-are-in-crisis-new-data-and-the-5-best-responses/?sh=6703bbea7a8c), and 39% say that this negatively affects both their career and their parenting. In an industry where long, inconsistent hours are the norm, the only option for FSI employees is a flexible childcare solution that matches the nature of their work.

Within the financial services industry, a whopping 40% of employees report feeling burned out – with only transportation and health workers suffering from higher rates (Investment Executive: Four in 10 financial workers feeling burned out: https://www.investmentexecutive.com/news/industry-news/four-in-10-financial-workers-feeling-burned-out/). To make matters worse, only one-third of workers feel comfortable talking to their peers and managers around mental health (Forbes, Working Parents Are In Crisis: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2022/06/05/working-parents-are-in-crisis-new-data-and-the-5-best-responses/?sh=6703bbea7a8c).

The reality is that remote and hybrid working models have changed the nature of employee burnout. While, in many respects, flexible policies have facilitated a greater work-life balance for many employees, they’ve undoubtedly encouraged an ‘always on’ mentality where employees struggle to disconnect.

The pressure parents feel to work at night and on weekends, especially when working from home, is as overwhelming as it is near unanimous, with 4 out of 5 parents regularly working beyond their contracted hours. In fact, research from Stanford University has shown that employees are spending 35% of any time saved by commuting by working longer hours, with the other 60% going to other unpaid labour activities such as childcare (Financial Times, Remote working fuels burnout in finance sector: https://www.ft.com/content/1eb12dd8-ba23-40aa-8765-90dd5674c37d).

Flexible, remote work is especially favoured (and needed) by working parents, but it’s not enough: family support is critical to the prevention of presenteeism and burnout.

With a staggering $322 billion a year lost globally in turnover and productivity due to employee burnout, (Gallup, Employee Wellbeing Is Key For Productivity: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/215924/well-being.aspx) this is a huge issue – and the childcare crisis is at the heart of it. 38% of millennials say they are “stressed” and those millennials – anyone born between 1981 and 1996 – aren’t kids anymore: they now make up the vast majority of new parents.

Without flexible childcare, the traditional 9 to 5 workday remains in conflict with children’s schedules. Fielding requests from a child while focused on a work deadline is a source of avoidable stress, which remote working hardly resolves.

The pandemic might have made it more acceptable to work while the kids were around, but it didn’t make it any easier, and we’re now dealing with the hangover: parents muddling through, often indefinitely, and employers ignoring the consequences.

Poor childcare support is forcing women out of financial services

Within the financial services industry, research has shown that only 24% of workers believe that their organisation’s leadership is gender diverse, with women representing only 21% of board seats, 19% of C-suite roles and 5% of CEO positions (Advancing more women leaders in financial services: A global report https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/insights/industry/financial-services/gender-diversity-in-global-financial-services.html).

While initiatives including the Women in Finance Charter, Hampton Alexander Review, and Social Mobility Employer Index are positive steps in the right direction, more needs to be done to prevent stagnation (Advancing more women leaders in financial services: A global report https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/insights/industry/financial-services/gender-diversity-in-global-financial-services.html).

The reality is that men are continuing to advance in their careers after having children, while women are more likely to suffer setbacks – or leave the workforce altogether. For working mums saddled with the lion’s share of childcare responsibilities, work-life balance proves untenable even with shared parental leave and flexible working.

In an industry where 80 hour weeks are common, women are being forced to make difficult choices between motherhood and their careers. Consequently, many women are deterred from taking on more responsibility in the workplace, turning down promotions to preserve the shreds of work-life balance they still possess. This permeates across entire organizations: the multiplier effect identified by Deloitte shows that for every woman added to the C-suite, three more women are added to senior leadership (Deloitte: Leadership, representation, and gender equity in financial services:

The result? The fewer women there are in executive positions, the fewer women there are across management levels. In the same breath, Deloitte concludes: “With an estimated 43% of women leaving their jobs after having a child, firms should consider how to tap into this wealth of talent when they are ready to restart their careers and return to work” (Deloitte: Leadership, representation, and gender equity in financial services:

75% of women report having the greatest responsibilities for home inclusive of childcare duties (City AM: Childcare and chores leave professional women burned out: https://www.cityam.com/childcare-and-chores-leave-professional-women-burned-out-during-pandemic/).

It recently emerged that for the first time in decades, the number of women not returning to work after having a baby is on the rise (The Times/Pregnant Then Screwed, 2022: Held back: the mothers who can’t afford to return to work: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/held-back-the-mothers-who-cant-afford-to-return-to-work-r5r3k9bxl) – and it’s rarely a decision based on choice, but economics.

Talent retention

The facts are clear: not providing support will cause a talent drain; a drain that is simply untenable within an industry where gender parity statistics already paint a bleak picture. Last year, a McKinsey report found that senior-level working mums were 1.5 times more likely than men to seriously consider leaving their jobs, with the overwhelming majority citing burnout as the main cause. With working dads now making up a third of the workforce, and women filling 33% of management roles, the cost of “working parent job flight” is significant.

Replacing a salaried employee has an estimated cost of six to nine months’ salary on average, plus Oxford researchers (Oxford Economics: The Cost of Brain Drain: https://www.oxfordeconomics.com/resource/the-cost-of-brain-drain/) estimate that it takes eight to twelve weeks to replace knowledge workers, followed by a further one to two months before their replacement reaches full productivity.

Without support, this cycle will continue.

Preventing staff attrition and burnout with dynamic support quite simply makes good business sense. As we transition into new ways of work, having a well-constructed parental retention strategy is more than “the nice thing to do”.

The loss of a single working parent with a £40,000 salary could cost an organisation upwards of £20,000 in lost productivity, recruitment expenses and new hire training.

According to We Are The City, based on the average number of women leaving the workforce after having children, this adds up to a total of £200,000 a year lost for a 5000 FTE company (We Are The City 2022: Why Bringing Working Mothers Back Into The Fold Is The Ultimate ROI: https://wearethecity.com/why-bringing-working-mothers-back-into-the-fold-is-the-ultimate-roi/).

And the loss isn’t just financial: businesses with large percentages of female staff are associated with higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement for everyone, regardless of gender. In turn, this makes it easier to attract new hires: ultimately, diversity fosters innovation.

If all those popular, experienced women leave, others will follow.

Family support fuels talent

Pro-family policies attract top-performing talent up to the most senior level, having a positive impact on employee well-being and talent retention. Family support is an investment in your people and the future of your business.

Working parents currently make up 3 in 7 of our workforce, and the vast majority of them are millennials, with even Generation Z beginning to have children two: two generations that have very different workplace expectations than those before them, meaning that a pro-family culture and accompanying family-focused benefits are critical to future business success.

How working parents are treated is an indicator of how ALL talent is treated, especially in the eyes of prospective and rising junior talent seeking a company home to build their long-term careers.

Creating a supportive culture from the top down has a huge impact. According to Harvard Business School’s research into Managing The Future Of Work, a “turnover tsunami” can be avoided by making an intentional choice to care for employees and their families, and in an industry with one of the highest employee turnover rates at a staggering 18.6%, this is of utmost importance (The Millenial Turnover Problem in the Financial Services Industry:
https://gethppy.com/employee-turnover/the-millennial-turnover-problem-in-the-financial-services-industry). Showing you care leads to higher employee satisfaction, and the benefits of that care, such as feeling less stressed about childcare, rapidly leads to increased wellbeing, which in turn increases productivity.

How childcare fails are crushing productivity in the financial services industry

According to the Harvard Business School survey, over 80% of employees reported that caring responsibilities negatively impacted their productivity – and the data showed that senior executives were the most affected. Despite this, just 24% of employers recognised that it was caregiving responsibilities influencing performance, instead citing unplanned absences and missed days of work, poor punctuality and leaving the office early as the top three behaviours undermining career progress – without acknowledging that lack of sufficient childcare was highly likely to be influencing these.

52% of employers don’t keep track of which employees have caring responsibilities and therefore don’t realise the extent to which these can be a burden; a burden which impacts performance.
Something clearly isn’t adding up. Can you offer a solution instead of being part of the problem?

Within the FSI, erratic work schedules are commonplace as demand ebbs and flows inline with client requirements and FYE. This can make childcare arrangements unmanageable based on unpredictability – you never know when you might be in the office until the early hours after crucial documents are sent through, or deadlines are brought forward.

To layer on top, even the most rock-solid childcare arrangements can go wrong due to sickness, inset days, closures and a whole raft of other unforeseen circumstances, and this is where women often pick up the slack, and ultimately why backup and on-demand childcare increases work productivity by up to 8 hours per week.

45% of parents reported that childcare issues resulted in chronic absenteeism, with them missing an average of 4.3 days of work every six months (Forbes, 2022: The ROI of Childcare in a Post-Pandemic World: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/04/28/the-roi-of-child-care-in-a-post-pandemic-world/?sh=5fd9a40d15a5). For an employee earning £40,000, this adds up to £1360 a year lost in productivity. But for just a few pounds a month per head, offering parents Bubble For Work would obliterate this cost.

Final words

To solve the challenge of high turnover, low morale and burnout across your entire workforce, you must acknowledge that ALL team members have lives, families and personal obligations and:

– Commit to reducing gender inequality in the financial services industry by making childcare and caregiver support accessible to all.

– Consider parental needs when implementing flexible working policies across your business by recognising that some need more structure than others.

– Alter industry standards by forging a team culture that values personal obligations and reduces the stigma of practicing work-life balance.

– Recognise the ebbs and flows of working in the financial services industry and offer employees benefits that reflect the absence of consistency.

– Create clear meritocratic policies that recognise and reward employees for performance output as opposed to billable hours.

The future of the workplace depends on equal access to family support that enables every employee to excel at home and at work.

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